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‘When tourists visit our town because of ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’, if we have to speak with that accent, we’ll do it!’

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Eamon Moore at the Thatch Bar in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo which was in the movie 'Wild Mountain Thyme'. Photo : Keith Heneghan

Eamon Moore at the Thatch Bar in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo which was in the movie 'Wild Mountain Thyme'. Photo : Keith Heneghan

Eamon Moore at the Thatch Bar in Crossmolina, Co. Mayo which was in the movie 'Wild Mountain Thyme'. Photo : Keith Heneghan

First, it was Joe Biden, then the Hollywood elites. Accents aside, North Mayo is having a moment.

And when the Irish Independent visited, it’s hard to see why not.

In these trouble d times, there is magic in the air in Crossmolina, as the area braces itself to be the next Cong, of The Quiet Man fame.

This week, commentators declared an Irish accent code red crisis after the release of promo clips of the soon to be released romantic comedy, Wild Mountain Thyme.

Joe Duffy, almost breathless with laughter, dedicated over an hour bemoaning the overt paddywhackery on display.

He even questioned if the multi-million dollar production had bothered to hire a voice coach.

But locals who spent months in the company of the cast and crew say nothing was left to chance.

Filmed largely on Billy Connor’s idyllic farm, nestled under the Nephin mountain range, it stars Hollywood a-listers Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Christopher Walken and John Hamm, and is directed by Oscar-winner John Patrick Shanely.

This was a big-budget Hollywood production and millions were spent in the area, a fact that locals won’t forget.

Eamon Moore, who runs The Thatch Inn, where Emily Blunt was famously pictured pulling her first pint of Guinness, said the critics have got it wrong.

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“We can talk about the accents but the simple fact is the audience that film is geared towards isn’t Mayo or even Irish people.

“It’s targeted at America or Europe or Asia – where Jamie Dornan is absolutely massive.”

“And if you could have Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan to do the same as John Wayne and O’Hara did for Cong, then we are on a winner. We have a hotel, restaurants, pubs and cafes and when tourists do come, we have all the facilities for them.”

Moore thinks Crossmolina should link up with the Wild Atlantic Way.

“Maybe we could do a Wild Mountain Thyme trek. You could climb Nephin, do a bit of fishing on Lough Conn, go to Billy Connors and milk a cow and come in here and pull a pint of Guinness – make a weekend out of it.

“If people do come and visit because of the film, even if we have to learn how to speak with that sort of an accent, we’ll do it.

“If you were to google Crossmolina before this it was all about us having five foot of water flooding all our homes and businesses.

“Now, it’s because we had a top Hollywood-directed film and A-list actors and film crews here.”

Billy and Deirdre Connor's Farm, in nearby Ballycorroon, was where the film was largely shot.

The Connors, together with their children Liam (17), Ronan (15) and Holly (10), described the experience as one the happiest times of their lives.

Their home is a joyful one and their experience of Wild Mountain Thyme has left a lasting imprint on the family.

“We all had a great time, and why not? They (the actors and crew) were the soundest people,” Billy said.

Filming was split between the Connors', another local farm and Mount Falcon hotel, where the cast and crew stayed.

“I expected them to do all the filming here in one go, but they came here first and to another farm for a couple of weeks, then to Mount Falcon.

“But they came back to us again. It was great to see all the trucks and taxi’s coming back up and road, and we were back in the thick of it again," Billy says.

During filming, the Connors moved into Billy’s mother's house down the road, but the family were on site every day soaking up the atmosphere.

Marvelling at the scale of production, Billy says “there was a lot of work involved”.

Deirdre Connor said the whole operation was hugely impressive. “They painted the whole place. The art department was amazing how they could make things looked distressed and worn.

“It was so impressive,” she said.

While all the family played extras in the movie Deirdre Connor had an important role she and her sister Mary played Jamie Dornan’s sisters.

“We didn’t have any lines we just had to sit there, but it was brilliant. In 50 lifetimes we wouldn’t have an experience like this."

On the last day of filming the Connors marked the occasion in explosive fashion.

“It was pitch black around 9pm and the director shouted; ‘That’s it – that’s a wrap’, said Billy.

“Myself and Liam and Ronan and my nephew from Sligo, we let off a load of fireworks. It was magic,” said Billy.

Alan Maloney, the owner of Mount Falcon Hotel, which became home for the stars for months, said the film is “a great thing for Mayo”.

“Apart from the global exposure that the region is going to get but the economic spinoff to us and the local area was just phenomenal.

“It was huge. Remember this is the West of Ireland and given the seasonality we have this was filmed in October and November. It was a godsend to everybody… This is one of the most beautiful places in the world but people haven’t fully discovered it yet.”


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