A lucky 17 life lessons from The Quiet Man

My mother is 100 percent Irish, so I grew up with soda bread baking in the oven, “Toora Loora Loora” at bedtime, and a series of green cars my father drove to hand out programs at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Yet somehow I never knew about The Quiet Man until I married John, my husband whose wee bit of Irish heritage is magnified by the fact that his mother was born on the highest holy day of the Irish year.



Over the past decade, John and I have seen The Quiet Man several times. And when we sat down to watch it again the other day, I was thinking how few movies portray marital love as a relationship with challenges that can be addressed and overcome.

It occurred to me that despite John Wayne’s character’s rough and tough side, The Quiet Man is full of life lessons. Here’s what I took away on this viewing:

1.       No playing patty-fingers in the holy water.

2.       When your husband is dragging you across a field, try to keep your shoes on.



3.       Nothing is more romantic than being stranded on an Irish hillside in the rain. Unless it’s playing patty-fingers in the holy water.

4.       When you drink whiskey, drink whiskey. When you drink water, drink water.

5.       Instead of talking about women folk in saloons, sing “There Was a Wild Colonial Boy.”

6.       Planting roses can be as important as planting vegetables.

7.       If your spouse cares passionately about something, you need to care about it at least a little.



8.       Don’t underestimate quiet people.

9.       A tandem bicycle makes an excellent escape vehicle.

10.   Whenever you enter a home say, “God bless all in this house.”

11.   If you have a problem, talk to your priest —just maybe not while he’s trying to land a salmon.



12.   Some things are easier to say in Irish.

13.   Sometimes to become friends, you have to spend time together, whether you’re fighting or drinking in an Irish pub.

14.   If you both want to throw the money in the fire, go for it.

15.   Marriage isn’t always easy, but it’s always worthwhile.

16.   Love is worth fighting for.



The main lesson I learned this time around, though, was this:

17.   Don’t let your sons watch John Wayne fighting unless you want to watch them “play” fight around the house for the rest of the weekend.
Now what I want to do for St. Patrick’s Day is tuck our sons in bed, bake some soda bread, and watch The Quiet Man again.


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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.