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  Quiet Man Country

In 1951, a movie called The Quiet Man premiered in Hollywood. It starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara and told the story of an Irish-American boxer who returns to his native village of Innisfree, Ireland, after accidentally killing an opponent in the ring. Back in Ireland, he falls in love with a local woman and fights to win her hand in marriage. The movie was filmed mostly in the village of Cong. Today, Cong still takes immense pride in this shining moment of glory and the entire region around it (northwest of Galway City) is known as "The Quiet Man Country".

Ruins of cottage

Visitors with an interest in mythology and prehistory benefit from the region's rich archaeological legacy. One of the main tales of Irish mythology recounts the battle between the Tuatha De Danann and the Fir Bolg for possession of the land. This great battle is said to have taken place in the area; a mile or so up the road from Cong is a stone marker identifying the burial place of one of the battle's fallen leaders.

Just to the west of Cong is another—and much older—resting spot: a 6,000-year-old tomb from the Neolithic Age. Other relics from this age are the stone circles. Like the famous stone circle at Stonehenge, these date back to pre-Christian times and once functioned as ceremonial and ritual centres. Several such stone circles still stand around Cong. Another fascinating structure is the impressive and mysterious stone pyramid rising out of a field in nearby Neale.
There is also the atmosphere surrounding the Monks' Fishing House. Built in the early Christian period, this ingenious little stone structure stands smack in the middle of the river. Inside, there is a square hole in the middle of the floor. On cold, rainy days (that is, on most days), the monks used to stay inside the house and catch their dinner by lowering their line and bait through this hole and into the water.

Another phenomenon is the ‘Rising of the Waters’ which disappear underground some three miles away to the north, suddenly reappearing in Cong Village with great force, where they divide into many streams and flow into the Corrib.

Perhaps the most interesting historical remnant in the village is the ruin of the Royal Abbey of Cong built for the canons regular of the Order of Saint Augustine in 1120 A.D. Built by Turlough Mór O’Connor, King of Connacht and High King of Ireland, on the site of a seventh-century foundation by St Fechin.  The Abbey, which was endowed and supported by the Royal Families of this era, is considered to be one of the finest examples of early architecture in Ireland, and it was here that Rory O’Connor, the last High-King of Ireland, died in 1198. The Abbey was suppressed in the reign of Henry VIII of England.