Celebrity traveler: John Astin heeds call of Aran Islands
Hopkins professor and 'Addams Family' actor finds meaning in Ireland
John Astin standing just outside the Inishmaan house where John Millington Synge made long visits and wrote. (John Astin, For The Baltimore Sun / July 25, 2001)
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Do people recognize you when you travel?
I am not as easily recognized now; my mustache is gray and I have no hair. For over 40 years, I was almost instantly recognized wherever I went. I had a problem with it early on, but after a while, I began see it as a great benefit in my life.
What are you working on now?
I run the theater the program and teach at Johns Hopkins University.
And you have a theater named for you!
I still don't believe it. The theater had been renovated, and I thought that's what the event was about. Then [friend and fellow actor] Ed Asner, the university's president, Ron Daniels, and the dean of arts and sciences, Katherine Newman, made the dedication speeches, and no one was more surprised than me.
Have any favorite destinations to bring friends and family visiting Baltimore?
We've got some very capable theaters in Everyman and Center Stage. There are also a wonderful variety of restaurants here: Afghan food, Ethiopian, Indian. When my grandkids were here, we went to the Baltimore Museum of Art. There are many wonderful galleries, and now a pinball museum, an incredible comic book museum, probably one of the best in the world. The Babe Ruth house. The two fantastic stadiums. Fort McHenry, for heaven's sake; there's so much American history in and around Baltimore.
Yes, so many opportune settings for a film or television series, right?
Those locations are all over Baltimore. Every block looks like a "period." If I were a locations scout, I would consider Baltimore a gold mine.
If you go
Inis Meain ("middle island"), Aran Islands, is in Galway Bay, off the west coast of Ireland, and is often overlooked by tourists. A single road leads across the island, and along it are most of the sights and shops. Many venues don't have traditional street addresses — just ask, they'll know.
Shannon International Airport is the closest international airport to Galway. Fly British Air or American Airlines from BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport through London into Shannon (about $1,300 round-trip). From Shannon, CityLink and Bus Éireann operate a daily service to and from the airport, beginning at about $18 one-way. Aer Arann (aerarann.ie) provides 10-minute flights from Connemara Airport — 18 miles from Galway — starting at about $53 round-trip. A ferry (aranislandferries.com) runs year-round (depending on the weather), a 40-minute ride from Rossaveal; $23 round-trip.