Plans afoot to cash in on Mayo’s potential as a film location

By Frances Toner

The Quiet Man statue in Cong: Sixty-three years on, the village is still capitalising on its association with the screen classic. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Toher.

The Quiet Man statue in Cong: Sixty-three years on, the village is still capitalising on its association with the screen classic. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Toher.

A new drive to develop Mayo as a serious player in the film and television industry is being launched on Monday.

Film Mayo, a website to promote the county as a top film location, is the first step in a plan to strongly market the county to the industry.

The website highlights the scope and variety of potential locations throughout the county and was developed by Mayo County Council’s arts service in partnership with various innovation, enterprise, and creative industry agencies.

Acclaimed director and BAFTA winner Pat O’Connor, whose credits include Circle of Friends and Dancing at Lughnasa, will perform the official launch of Film Mayo in Knockranney House Hotel, Westport.

Orlagh Heverin, assistant arts officer, with Mayo County Council said there were numerous economic benefits, both short and long term, to attracting more film and television productions to the county, particularly a big scale movie production.

“You only have to look at what Lord of the Rings, filmed in New Zealand, did for that country,” she pointed out.

The filming of Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkien’s fantasy series, The Hobbit in 2011, contributed €2.4 billion to the Kiwi economy.

“The potential in this industry is huge,” said Ms Heverin.

And the benefits extend far beyond the short term boost a film crew setting up in Mayo would contribute to the local economy, particularly if the county were to secure the golden grail - an international blockbuster.

“When people go to cinema and see a beautiful location, they want to then visit themselves,” said Ms Heverin. “Examples of this phenomenon include Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which put the Greek island of Cephalonia on the tourist map, while Harry Potter films led to a 120 per cent rise in visitors to Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle and has brought about £9 million in tourism to the region.”

Locally, the picturesque village of Cong in south Mayo is a prime example of the potential long-term benefits of attracting a large scale production.

Sixty-three years after screen legends Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne first played out their fiery onscreen romance in The Quiet Man, Cong continues to capitalise on its association with the movie, attracting fans of the film keen to experience its quaint settings for themselves.

The village also stages tours, events, and festivals linked to the film to boost visitor numbers.

The inaugural Film Mayo networking event, for film and television industry professionals, will also take place on Monday and a panel of leading film experts will speak about their experiences of the world of film.

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