Irish ancestral home erects Three Billboards in tribute to director Martin McDonagh

Three billboards have been erected outside the small village of Lettermullen in Galway in the west of Ireland where writer and director Martin McDonagh’s father comes from. Containing congratulatory messages written in the Irish language, they’re a tribute to his movie ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which has been nominated for seven Academy Awards and recently won five BAFTAs, including Best Picture.

Director Martin McDonagh’s Irish ancestral home erects Three Billboards in tribute to him. Image by Róisín Nic Leoid

The Irish-speaking community in Lettermullen – known as Leitir Mealláin in Irish – erected the three signs, whose messages translate to say “Congratulations Martin McDonagh”, “Big Star of Lettermullen” and “Big Star of Hollywood”. Although they grew up in London to Irish parents, Martin and his brother John, author and director of The Guard, spent summers and family holidays in Lettermullen when they were growing up and have a long connection with the Connemara area. Their parents now live in Spiddal, which is also in Galway.

Martin McDonagh with two of his BAFTA awards for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire

According to people from the area, proud pupils from the local school got together to put up the billboards, inspired by the plot of the movie. In the film, Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand) battles with her community to dig deeper into her daughter’s violent death in the fictional town of Ebbing. After months have passed without a culprit being identified, she paints three signs on billboards leading into Ebbing with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, the town’s chief of police.

Frances McDormand in the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Image: Merrick Morton/2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

John Bhaba Jeaic Ó Conghaíle, curator of Leitir Mealláin heritage centre, told state broadcaster, RTÉ, and other media that he visited the star’s parents to tell them about the billboards, and they were delighted with the community’s response to Martin’s success. They informed their son, and the director was “very proud” that he was receiving recognition in his father’s birthplace.

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Irish ancestral home erects Three Billboards in tribute to director Martin McDonagh
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