The American owner of the dilapidated cottage which featured in 'The Quiet Man' has said he is opposed to moves to make the iconic property a protected structure.
White O'Morn cottage, in Maam in Connemara, is expected to be formally granted State protection next month, when a vote is put before members of Galway County Council.
Over the past decades it has fallen into rack and ruin and is now unrecognizable from the John Ford-directed 1952 movie, which starred John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.
Actor Liam Neeson recently added his voice to the campaign to get the cottage restored, stating: "It has been lying in ruins for way too many years."
But California-based Greg Ebbit, who has been the registered owner of the property since 1985, said he fears the crumbling cottage will never be restored to it its former glory if it is declared a protected structure.
He said: "It's always been my intention to restore it and it still is, but I'd be concerned that I won't legally be able to do anything with it if it's given State protection. My fear is that the ruling will mean it has to remain as a pile of stones."
Ebbitt voiced his concerns after it emerged that he is facing a legal challenge over rights to the property and its surrounding lands.
He is facing the prospect of losing the estate after an application was made by a neighboring farmer and businessman for squatter's rights – or adverse possession as it's known in legal terms.
The application, filed on behalf of Patrick Keane to the Property Registration Authority, states that the Keane has been "in exclusive beneficial occupation and possession of all the lands [Townland of Teernakill South and Townland of Teernakill North] for upwards of 12 years last past and in sole receipt of the rents and profits thereof without giving any acknowledgement in favour of any person in respect of the same or any part thereof and that consequently any claim of yours [Ebbitt's] to the said lands is now statute barred."
Ebbitt, who has hired a Dublin-based legal firm, now has just two weeks to challenge the application before Keane is listed as the registered owner.
Speaking from his home in California, Ebbitt claims he first made a "gentleman's agreement" with Keane to allow him to graze his cattle on his land in the late 80s in return for Keane undertaking general maintenance work on the grounds.
And he stressed he's not willing to lose his property without a huge fight.
He said: "I'm extremely upset and I feel betrayed, to say the least. I was trying to be a good neighbor by letting him [Keane] use the property to graze his cattle and now I've got a big fight on my hands to keep hold of it.
"This would never happen in America because it's not right. But I can promise you I'm not going to just give up and surrender my property. No matter what it costs, I'm going to fight this."
Ebbitt has come under fire in recent years for the lack of progress in restoring the cottage into what would undoubtedly be a big draw for the throngs of 'Quiet Man' fans who flock to Cong every year.
But he claimed it's always been – and still is – his intention to renovate it.
He said: "I've been trying for the past 25 years to get the cottage restored to how it looked in the film, but I've never got any help from anyone. I've spoken to people in the government and they seemed enthusiastic at first, but no one's done anything to help me.
"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.
"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."
When approached about the application for ownership, Keane said: "I don't want to comment on it at the moment."
The remote dwelling was recently put under State Protection, pending a second vote by Galway County Council next month.