It was a magical place – a romantic place – the mythical cottage of Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton featured in John Ford’s classic 1952 movie “The Quiet Man,” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.
Sean Thornton and Mary Kate’s real-life “wee humble cottage,” located at Tiernakill South, Maam, County Galway, currently lies in ruin.
In a bid to prevent further deterioration of this internationally beloved Irish cottage, a specially commissioned architectural heritage appraisal (supported by an 8,200 signature petition) was recently submitted to the Galway County Council, requesting that this historic location be added to the Council’s Record of Protected Structures (RPS).
The cottage underwent an architectural heritage appraisal prepared by a RIAI Grade 1 accredited Conservation Architect, who attested to the unique cultural significance of this iconic location.
Belfastman Paddy McCormick, who has been advocating for action on the cottage for 15 years, explains that the objective of this current initiative is “to halt further deterioration of the cottage and surrounding land before it is lost forever.”
The ruined state of the cottage is lamented by fans across the globe.
In a letter to Galway County Council, McCormick wrote “The cottage and its setting represent a precious tourism asset which could – and should – be generating visitors, jobs and revenue for the people of County Galway and Connemara.”
He fears that without proper protected structure status, there will be no way to ensure that the best conservation practices are followed in years to come, especially when it comes to the historical accuracy with which the cottage is rehabilitated.
Without this protection, he stated, “There would be no way to ensure that the rebuilt cottage would be a true reconstruction, using traditional building skills and reflecting the historic footprint, layout and vernacular character of the house as seen in ‘The Quiet Man’ film.
“Furthermore, there would be a legitimate fear that significant features within the surrounding land would not be respected. The concrete bridge, stepping stones, dry stone walls and rose garden are essential elements, featured in the film, which add to the richness of the site and deserve legal protection.
“As things currently stand - without any legislative protection - this iconic site could be levelled without consequence or accountability,” he added.
More than sixty years have passed since that day in 1951 when John Ford brought in his cast and crew to film on location to Galway and Connemara. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of tourists have flocked to the locations to get a glimpse of how it all began and how it unfolded into a cinema masterpiece – with Ireland as the star.
That history, McCormick asserts, should be preserved.
“The newly elected (and those re-elected) members of Galway County Council now have a golden opportunity to halt further deterioration of the cottage and surrounding land. We are respectfully asking the Galway County Council to please protect the cottage and its curtilage for future generations to celebrate and enjoy.”