Gabriel Byrne has given fresh hope to an ambitious campaign to restore the iconic train station which featured in “The Quiet Man” to its former glory.
The veteran Hollywood star sent a strongly-worded message of support to organizers of an ambitious crowdfunding project to save Ballyglunin station, which is otherwise known as “The Quiet Man station” because of its association with the 1952 John Ford classic, starring Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne.
The 67-year-old Dublin-born actor is the latest Hollywood heavyweight to get behind the community-led effort, following a pledge of support earlier this month from Liam Neeson.
But “The Usual Suspects” star’s support couldn't be more timely, as campaigners have just five more days remaining in which to reach their $30,000 target.
Just under $20,000 has been raised since the launch of the campaign last month, but unless campaigners can collect a further $10,000 by June 27, strict crowdfunding rules dictate that all funds will have to be returned.
Project leaders have admitted that the abandoned Co. Galway station – which featured in the opening scene of the classic picture, but was closed in 1976 after more than a century of service – is at significant risk of falling into serious disrepair if they fail to meet their fundraising target by next Tuesday.
The funds have been earmarked to save the station's crumbling roof from imminent collapse, after which supporters of the project have ambitious plans to turn the forgotten station into a thriving tourism mecca for "Quiet Man" fans.
Campaign spokesman Mark Gibson said there's no reason that the small village of Ballyglunin – where the station is based – couldn't emulate the success of Cong, Co. Mayo, which has been attracting thousands of film fans in the decades since the enduring movie was shot there.
Ballyglunin-based Gibson, a 40-year-old father-of-three, said: "There is huge potential here and there's massive support here in the village and in nearby places like Tuam and Athenry to get this up-and-running.
"Our priority at the moment is to get to our €30,000 target in the next few days, and then we hope to be in a position to open the renovated station up to tourists by the summer of next year. There's huge interest, and we've already been approached by a cruise company about it, who see it as a possible day destination for passengers who dock in Galway.”
Gibson admitted campaigners will have to pull out all the stops to meet their target.
But he welcomed the latest endorsement from Gabriel Byrne, insisting it's just what the campaign needs in its final few days.
In his message of support, the New York-based actor said: "The opening of ‘The Quiet Man’ in Ballyglunin station is unforgettable. [Actor] Barry Fitzgerald leads John Wayne and us, the audience, through a magic door into a mythical underworld, called Innisfree.
"I've long admired the film, and as well as narrating Se Merry Doyle's superb documentary ['Dreaming The Quiet Man'], I have presented ‘The Quiet Man’ at the Metropolitan museum in New York."
He added: "The image of Ballyglunin station is known to millions all over the world and is part of film archaeology.
"Please donate to www.ballyglunin..com or fundit.ie and help to restore this iconic building not just for us, but for future generations who will come to love The Quiet Man."
Read more: Why do people love "The Quiet Man" so much?