Revisiting THE QUIET MAN at MoMA: tonight through June 3rd.


How It’s New York:  MoMA is one of New York’s gems, a real cultural institution.  An exhibit like this could happen elsewhere, but it hasn’t.  Gabriel Byrne, Ireland’s Cultural Ambassador, is Honorary Chair of the Irish Arts Center.  He curated the event.  
How It’s Irish:  It’s The Quiet Man.  It’s the film they show every St. Patrick’s Day season.   It stars Maureen O’Hara, and a lot of Irish actors and extras (it also stars John Wayne). The exhibit includes a lot of Irish film, including recent ones from Lance Daly and Enda Walsh.

The Quiet Man is the one film that shouts “Ireland” to most people.  Love it or hate it, you have to know it; let’s face it, you can hardly escape it.  So what better jumping off point for an exhibit on Ireland and film than the 1952 movie, directed by John Ford?  Yes, it’s a sentmental portrayal of an idyllic place that never was– but like many such films there are elements of truth still in it (I’m thinking the portrayal of Alabama in My Cousin Vinny. While it’s a fairytale that suggests the South is stuck in time, there are things in it that capture real nuances)

The movie has been taken to heart by the Irish as well.  Shannon Airport catalog used to sell “Quiet Man” figurines.   Director John Ford (“and he’s won three Academy Awards!) took what had been a more controversial story and made it  heartwarming. Roddy Doyle (The Commitments, The Snapper) recently wrote a book The Dead Republic, that looks at the original subject of The Quiet Man.  (Michelle Woods will review it and discuss it for this week’s podcast!)

What does the movie hide/reveal about Ireland and America’s resepctive ideals?  Byrne will speak at a post-show discussion tonight(the other showing is tomorrow).  The other films in the exhibit range from obscure to commercial. Full listing here

The 28th is  a banner day:  Jim Sheridan will discuss two films with Gabriel Byrne, and Enda Walsh one. 

They are: 1959’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People (starring Sean Connery),   In the Name of the Father (1993), directed by Sheridan, starring Daniel Day-Lewis,     Enda Walsh will discuss his 2008 film Hunger with Gabriel Byrne.  And on Sunday, Sheridan will discussInto the West (1993), directed by Sheridan, and starring Byrne.  Again, get all the skinny here!

Darby O’Gill and the Little People

There are going to be silent films accompanied by Irish musicians, including Ivan Goff.  Guests at the exhibit include  Dr. Luke Gibbons, from the National University of Ireland,  Lance Daly on his 2008 film Kisses, Enda Walsh and Jim Sheridan (see recaplet of Daly’s film at Tribeca Film Festival, The Good Doctor, here).

According to press from the Irish Film Institute:

   Byrne has identified key themes in the film—an emigré’s sense of “home,” politics, the role of women, religion, and Irish identity—and selected films from and about Ireland that further develop and amplify them. The Quiet Man is emblematic of an American representation of Ireland that dominated international perceptions of the country until 1958, when the establishment of Ireland’s national film studios allowed Irish filmmakers to express their own voices and visions. This exhibition presents alternative depictions of Ireland on screen and provides a multifaceted view of America’s complex cinematic relationship with the Irish.

Curated by Gabriel Byrne. Presented by The Museum of Modern Art and Irish Film Institute, as part of Imagine Ireland: Culture Ireland’s Year of Irish Arts in America 2011.This program is facilitated by Charles Silver, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art; Sunniva O’Flynn, Curator, Irish Film Institute; and Sarah Glennie, Director, Irish Film Institute. Thanks to UCLA and Swank Motion Pictures.

The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters
The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street New York, NY 10019

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Copyright 2011 New York Irish Arts


  1. I missed this, would have loved to have seen it.