Writer and director, Martin McDonagh, has thanked the small village of Lettermullen in Galway in the west of Ireland for erecting three billboards in his honour. The village is where his father comes from, and locals got together to put up the billboards containing congratulatory messages written in the Irish language. They’re a tribute to Martin’s movie ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which won two Academy Awards and five BAFTAs.
The messages from the Irish-speaking community in Lettermullen – known as Leitir Mealláin in Irish – 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 they have a long connection with the Connemara area. Their parents now live in Spiddal, which is also in Galway.
Proud pupils from the local school got together to make 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.
Martin sent a note to Máirtín Tom Sheáinín at RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta to thank the community in Connemara. He asked for it to be read out on his request programme, Togha agus Rogha, on Sunday March 4. “I’d like to say thanks a million to everyone involved in putting up the billboards in Leitir Mealláin,” he wrote in the Irish language. “Thanks for the farmer who gave his land, to the school, to the Heritage Centre, to the committee in Comhar Chuigéil and especially to the lads who did the hard work of putting up the billboards. I’ve seen the pictures and they look brilliant. I hope to get over to see them for myself soon. Fair play to you all. Martin.”