Barry Fitzgerald, Irish Actor, Made The "Quite Man" A Very Proud Man
Most of the legends of the Big Screen seem to have one major stand out film that occupies a special place for film fans and for Irish fans of the legendary, Barry Fitzgerald, that special film is the ‘Quiet Man’.
As 'Michaeleen Óge Flynn', Barry Fitzgerald the Irish actor, portrayed the role of a ‘Matchmaker’ in the Cong, Co. Mayo, produced famous film and his comical antics captivated audiences around the globe. But there was much more to Barry Fitzgerald than his role in the ‘Quiet Man’ film.
Born on the 10th March 1888 as William Joseph Shields at Walworth Road, Portobello, on Dublin’s Southside district, Barry became one of Ireland’s greatest ever 20th century exports to to the American film industry.
The Dublin born actor served his theatre apprenticeship as an actor at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre following a brief spell combining his day job in the Irish Civil Service with his acting ambitions.
His curtain up debut in acting came in 1915, aged 27, when in a production of ‘The Critic’ by Richard Sheridan, he was allocated a one line speaking role.
Following his cameo role at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, soon after he was confronted with a career choice. Will it be acting or the Civil Service?
Choosing an actor career he began a lifetime journey in the extremely competitive film industry and went on to become one of Ireland’s greatest ever male film actors. His association with so many international successful films over a long and distinguished film career endeared the Famous Son Of Ireland to many Hall of Fame academies.
Barry Fitzgerald's lifetime story as a Famous Son Of Ireland is now recorded in our All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery.
Barry was associated with ‘Juno And the Paycock’ written by the renowned Irish playwright, Seán O’Casey and he also featured in the launch of ‘The Silver Tassie’.
In 1936 a momentous career decision took the blossoming Irish actor to Hollywood and to an unknown destination for his ambitions as an international actor.
Again the O’Casey connection came to the forefront and proved to be a vital component. John Ford, film director, was working on O’Casey’s world renowned play ‘The Plough And The Stars’ and Barry Fitzgerald landed the part of ‘Fluther Good’.
The 1940’s decade cemented his blossoming Hollywood career and films such as ‘The Long Voyage Home’ (1940); ‘How Green was My Valley’ (1941); ‘Then There was None’ (1945); ‘Two Years Before The Mast’ (1946); ‘The Naked City’ (1948); and the ‘Story Of Sea Biscuit’ (1949) made the now 61 year old Dubliner a prominent Hollywood star.
Also in 1944 the Irish actor of Church Of Ireland persuasion, was cast as an contrary old dithering parish priest in the film ‘Going My Way’ and as Fr. Fitzgibbon he earned rave and unique reviews for his performance as the cleric. ‘Going My Way’ remains as one of the greatest legacies of all his many films.
The ‘Quiet Man’ was filmed around the beautiful lush countryside of Cong in 1952 and starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara and as the matchmaker supreme, Barry Fitzgerald the Irish actor, became an iconic Irish actor who would go down in Irish film history as one of the greatest and most loveable Irish rogues.
Like all famous actors the curtain finally falls and with Barry Fitzgerald that accolade occurred following his famous role as a poacher in an Irish film. It was shot in 1959 when the famous Dubliner was aged seventy one.
Off the screen Barry Fitzgerald’s impression was very much a man of easy going nature and despite his great wealth accrued from his successful acting career, he lived in modest terms compared to his fellow acting comrades and his leisure pastimes in retirement were mainly devoted to golf and motor cycles.
Barry Fitzgerald, born on 10th March 1888 died on the 14th January 1961 and as a Famous Son Of Ireland, we are proud to incorporate his iconic name in our All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery for current and future generations of Irish people at home, Irish people in exile and people of Irish ancestry.
Derry JF Doody