MOBY DICK’S PUB - YOUGHAL
A Whale of a Movie Tale in County Cork
There has, of late in America, been a television commercial for a mobile smart phone of some particular brand featuring the theme of searching for Moby Dick. Images on the phone flip through various images of Moby related subjects. But for fans of the great white whale of Herman Melville’s 1851 novel and the classic film made of the story a century later, one can surely go to the whaling ports of New England where the fictional story took place, but to find the original scene of the John Huston movie, get thee to Ireland.
In 1954, John Huston settled on the historic coastal town of Youghal (pronounced rather like the sailing ship ‘yawl’), just east of Cork on the southern coast of Ireland to film his epic masterwork ode to man’s hubris against the forces of nature in the guise of a mythical white whale named Moby Dick. Youghal had a unique history as one of the great port towns of Ireland. Dating from well before the Vikings, the city’s still standing medieval walls were first constructed under charter from England’s King Edward I. During the Elizabethan age of discovery, Youghal was one of Ireland’s most important ports. Sir Walter Raleigh was the town’s mayor in 1588 to 1599 (see Castle Lismore Gardens). But as ships got bigger, the shallow bar at the mouth of the harbor became a hindrance and Cork became the big city and Youghal, a medieval walled port town more frozen in time. In the 1950s and 60s Youghal became one of the country’s more popular coastal holiday resorts, still a tourist getaway of quaint harbor and historic sites.
It was the shallow harbor and old time feel of the town which drew director John Huston and his mostly English crews from Elstree Studios to Youghal to double for the 1850’s Massachusetts whaling port of New Bedford. The set of a busy 19th Century sailing port was built around the sleepy harbor of the town, surrounding an 18th Century pub which would serve as the location of the boarding house and sailors drinking house, the Spouter Inn, where Ishmael first shares a cramped bed with the harpooner Queequeg, before setting sail on the Pequod with Captain Ahab. In the months of planning and construction of the port set, Huston spent much of his time in the pub, thinking, planning and of course drinking the flowing ale, ultimately joined by his movie’s stars, Gregory Peck and Richard Baseheart. The port is nearly unchanged since the film. Look at the still photo on the wall of sailing ships in the bay and step outside for the same view, though now of pleasure boats and fishing dingys.
The pub is still owned by the same family which has been its proprietors for over a hundred years. After the release of the film of the famous novel, proprietor Paddy Linehan renamed his establishment the Moby Dick Pub. Easily recognized now by a painted wall and well marked with signs as the “location of John Huston’s film Moby Dick” just at the harbor’s edge, steps from the town’s tourism center and the famous 18th Century clock gate tower which served as a gallows where the condemned were hung from the windows. Inside the Moby Dick Pub, you’ll find three rooms of a traditional licensed drinking establishment, but with walls crowded with photographs and memorabilia from the iconic motion picture. At the bar, with a Guinness or local Cork favorite brew Murphys in hand, you can peruse one of the scrapbooks of news items, letters and notes of the filming which took over the town. But don’t look to share a bed with a tattooed cannibal, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a hotel and settle for darts rather than a harpoon. © Bargain Travel Europe
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Moby Dick's Pub
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