Like most of Hollywood’s Irish romantic comedies, 1997’s “The Matchmaker“, starring Janeane Garofalo, David O’Hara and Milo O’Shea, is a love-it-or-hate-it affair. The usual broad Irish stereotypes are on display as Marcy, a young American political aide (Garofalo) unexpectedly lands in the middle of a matchmaking festival. The film, however, has a lot of charm and humor, and the filmmakers’ obvious enjoyment of all things Irish saves the day.
The village: Roundstone, Co. Galway
Unlike many movies set in Ireland, most of “The Matchmaker” was mostly shot in and around one location, the picturesque village of Roundstone in Co. Galway. The main street we first see as the bus gets wrapped up in a large sign and careens down the boat ramp is one of the famous picture-postcard images of Connemara. The real pubs and hotels of the village served as locations for the fictional town of “Ballinagra” (trans: “the town of love”), and visitors can stroll around the village and imagine themselves in many scenes from the film. (Just don’t start drunkenly dancing on top of any Mercs parked on the main street…)
The Island: Inishmore
In the film, the main characters make an overnight trip to the Aran Islands, and this was indeed shot on location on Inishmore (at least the exteriors were). The little airport where Jeanne Garofalo nearly missed the bus to Ballynagra is actually Inishmore Aerodrome on the Aran Islands. There’s not much to see at the aerodrome in real life, but the short trip from Connemara Airport to Inishmore is a wonderful sightseeing opportunity, and may spare you what can be a very rough ferry crossing.
Going through Flickr, I noticed that some people get excited to find the cottage where “Ned Devine” (Jimmy Keogh) pegs stones at Marcy & Sean. I can’t say I was interested enough in finding that exact cottage to prowl the island in search of it (at a certain point all whitewashed cottages look the same), but that was the scene of the funniest bit in the movie (at least for me): when Marcy tells Sean to say something in Irish to Ned Devine to get him to stop throwing stones at them. Sean reaches into his memory for the one phrase every Irish school kid knows: An bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithreas? Which translates as, “Can I use the bathroom?” In national (elementary) school, this is the magic phrase every kid has to say in order to go to the restroom, and as Sean says “if you don’t say it, you have to go in your pants. And, it’s not very nice to go in your pants.” Indeed not!
The large airport where Marcy arrives and transfers to the “wee baby planelet” (the same plane that does the short hops to and from the Aran Islands daily, is Shannon Airport, which should be familiar to most travelers flying transatlantic to Ireland.
So, that’s a short and sweet roundup of where to go if you want to wander the streets seen in “The Matchmaker.”
Like Irish movies? You may be interested in “Where was Amy Adams’ Leap Year Filmed“
Ah gwan, sure why not treat yourself to “The Matchmaker” on DVD… You will, you will, you will…