THE real star of the 'Quiet Man' was "majestic Ireland", according to actress Maureen O'Hara.
In a heartfelt message to the hundreds of people who attended the unveiling in Cong, Co Mayo, of bronze figures of herself and 'Quiet Man' co-star John Wayne, O'Hara waxed lyrical about the beauty of the Irish countryside in the months John Ford's blockbuster film was shot more than 60 years ago.
"I had never seen Ireland more majestic than she was that summer in 1951," the actress wrote.
"It was the first time she would ever be captured in Technicolor and we all knew while we were making it that the real star of the 'Quiet Man' would be Ireland herself – and she truly is.
"I loved playing Mary Kate Danaher. I liked the hell and fire in her."
The large gathering erupted in applause yesterday after Patrick Luskin, chairman of Cong Festival Committee, finished reading Maureen O'Hara's letter.
There was a delighted response from the attendance when Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring pulled away the drape covering the sculpture to reveal a cloth-capped, smiling Sean Thornton (Wayne) holding Mary Kate Danaher (O'Hara) aloft in his muscular arms.
Mark Rode, a sculptor based in Killasser, Swinford, Co Mayo, created the bronze figures.