The lengthy legal battle over the ownership of White O’Morn Cottage, famously featured in the movie “The Quiet Man,” has finally been settled allowing the restoration of the iconic dilapidated building to commence.
The registered owner, Greg Ebbitt of California, told the Irish press he has won his legal battle against local Patrick Keane, a farmer from Tiernakill, County Galway. The American businessman has been named as the rightful owner, Galway Bay FM reports.
The cottage, located in Maam, County Galway, was featured in the 1952 movie “The Quiet Man,” which was directed by John Ford and starred Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne. For years fans of the movie have petitioning the local council and the central government for permission to restore and preserve the cottage, which remains a tourist attraction today despite its ruined condition.
In April 2015, Keane had applied for squatters rights to the Property Registration Authority, but Ebbitt said he had made a “gentleman’s agreement” with Keane in the 1980s to allow him to graze his animals on the site in return for maintenance work. Last July, due to the ongoing legal battle, the iconic cottage which had fallen into ruins has placed under Irish State protection.
Ebbitt now says he’s relieved that the legal battle is over and he can finally begin to restore the cottage.
Previously, Ebbitt had told IrishCentral how much the legal battle had upset him and how he was looking forward to the start of work on the cottage. He said felt betrayed and had spent years trying to restore the cottage.
Read more: Why "The Quiet Man" endures
“I’ve spent a fortune on architects and engineers, but I’ve never got anywhere. It’s been like hell trying to get this thing off the ground and I’ve started to feel that there’s a big conspiracy to take this property off me,” he told IrishCentral.
“I don’t trust anybody any more. I really don’t. I’ve never made a penny from this property and I’ve probably spent over $100,000 in it ever since I bought it.”
Since Maureen O’Hara’s death hundreds of people have stopped by the cottage, which is now just one gable wall. Over the years the cottage remains and most of the other stones have been removed by visitors. Currently, the cottage is only marked on the road by a handmade sign.
Last July, thanks to the backing of Maureen O’Hara along with Liam Neeson and Michael Flatley, White O’Morn cottage was officially granted status as a protected structure by the Galway County Council. Now fans are calling for it to be restored in memory of O’Hara, who died in October 2015.
Patrick McCormick, founder of the White O’Morn Foundation, told IrishCentral, “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.”
Happily it does seem that everyone involved, including Ebbitt and Keane, are behind the restoration of the cottage.