In the wake of the death of Irish Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara last weekend, her fans have started a campaign to see the Irish cottage from one of her best-known films, "The Quiet Man," faithfully restored.
The iconic White O’Morn cottage from John Ford’s 1952 film "The Quiet Man," starring O’Hara and John Wayne, is located in Maam, Co. Galway. Owned by a Canadian businessman, George Ebbitt, who does not take an active role in the property’s upkeep, the cottage has remained derelict for many years, its future uncertain.
In July, after a fierce, years-long campaign by fan groups and local politicians – and backed by A-list celebrities including Liam Neeson, Michael Flatley, and Maureen O’Hara herself – the White O’Morn cottage was officially granted status as a protected structure by the Galway County Council.
Now fans are calling for the cottage to be restored in O’Hara’s memory.
“Maureen invited me into her home many years ago to discuss the cottage and expressed how she would dearly like to see it restored one day. I made her a personal promise that I would do everything I could to, one day, get the cottage restored. I want to keep that promise now more than ever,” Patrick McCormick, founder of the White O’Morn Foundation told IrishCentral.
“Just last year (and upon signing our previous petition) Maureen O'Hara said ‘If you think about Duke, John Ford and all the people who worked on the picture it is sad to see it in a shambles. How can anyone say anything but wonderful things about it? – and see to it that it is fixed up for them and in their memory and for Ireland?’
“Maureen did live to see the cottage put under state protection (and was delighted with the news) but, sadly, she did not live to see one of her dearest wishes realized – seeing her 'wee humble cottage' and movie home with John Wayne restored to its former beauty.”
McCormick has now started a petition, which has collected close to 1,000 signatures in just a few days. Support has come from around the world – especially across the US, throughout Ireland and the UK, with many leaving comments about how much O’Hara and "The Quiet Man" meant to them.
The cottage has been an, at times, a contentious issue among die-hard fans of "The Quiet Man," Maureen O’Hara and John Ford. Debate as to what the cottage's fate should be is the primary source of the debate. Some did not want the cottage to receive protected status as they maintained that it would not be eligible for renovation.
Ebbitt, the current owner, has stated that it had always been his intention to restore it, while Patrick Keane, a farmer and businessman whose property neighbors the cottage, has applied to take adverse possession of the cottage and the land on which it sits.
For McCormick, however, O’Hara’s support was the greatest blessing the preservation and restoration campaign could have hoped for, and he is now more determined than ever to see her wishes carried out with the support of the local government.
He added that the cottage’s protected status does not mean that it cannot be restored, but that any restoration work must be carried out under heritage guidelines, i.e. in a way that is authentic and sympathetic to the original structure.
“We have now lost our beloved Maureen and we believe that this iconic cottage should now, as a matter of urgency, be restored in honor of Ms. O'Hara – as a timeless tribute to her life and career and as Ireland's own salute to its uncrowned 'Queen,'” he said.
Do you think "The Quiet Man" cottage should be restored? Share your thoughts in the comment section below, and click here to view the petition.