FAMOUS VISITORS TO CONNEMARA
In 1903, Leenane played host to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra when they made a tour of Connemara to visit the poor in the Congested Districts. Among those who greeted the king on his arrival in Leenane were the Lord Lieutenant and the Countess of Dudley. The king and queen went into a number of small cottages at the head of Killary fjord, and bonfires were lit on surrounding hills to celebrate their visit.
At the western end of the Killary Fjord lies Rosroe, a small community where the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein spent several months in 1948 in the holiday cottage belonging to Maurice Drury. The cottage is now a youth hostel, and a wall plaque commemorates Wittgenstein’s brief occupancy of the house. The artist Paul Henry also spent time in the area.
Connemara has always been a favourite retreat for writers and artists, among them Oliver St John Gogarty, whose home is now the Renvyle House Hotel. His friend, William Butler Yeats, was a frequent visitor. A short distance away, on the shores of Lough Fee is a hunting lodge called Illaunroe, once owned by eminent surgeon and polymath, Sir William Robert Wills Wilde – father of Oscar Wilde. Oscar spent considerable time at Illaunroe from 1876-1878, and enjoyed fi shing in the lake.
In 1989, Jim Sheridan directed a cinematic version of John B. Keane’s ‘The Field’, starring the late Richard Harris, John Hurt, Sean Bean and Tom Berrenger. The film was shot almost entirely in and around Leenane. The pub scenes in the film were shot in Gaynor’s Pub in the village, while Bull McCabe’s (played by Richard Harris) stone cottage was located just a short distance beyond the village on the Clifden road. The field for which the film its name was situated about six miles outside Leenane, beside a little bridge on the road to Westport. The fight scene between Bull McCabe, his son, and the American, was shot at the picturesque Aasleagh Falls, on the Erriff river, just north of Leenane.