Despite being voted a “Protected Structure”, Maureen O’Hara’s dearest wish to see the beloved Galway cottage restored can not happen without the owner’s involvement and actions from the Council

There are no plans for the cottage, made famous in the 1952 movie The Quietman, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, to be saved despite the fact that it legally qualifies as a protected structure a dismayed community leader told IrishCentral.

The White O’ Morn Cottage, in Ternakill, Maam, County Galway, was the love nest of fiery Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton (aka Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne) in the 1952 John Ford helmed movie The Quiet Man. The structure itself dates back to the pre-1820s.

Now the once white-walled thatched cottage is lying in ruins and despite well-wishes and thoughts of restoring the beloved house, nothing has been done to protect it.

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man.

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man.

Since IrishCentral was founded in 2009 and before there has been rumors and plans to restore the cottage. In fact, happily, just recently the train station at Ballyglunin, in County Galway, made famous by the same movie was renovated and has reopened after a successful crowdfunding campaign but this can not be the case with the White O’ Morn cottage.

Paddy McCormick, who runs the White O'Morn Cottage Community Group, told IrishCentral “Despite numerous rumors and gossip over the years there have never been any actual real 'plans' to restore the cottage - just statements of intent, expressions of goodwill and offers of support (both financial and material) which are always ignored.”

Read more: The enduring love of "The Quiet Man"

The White O’ Morn cottage has been abandoned. Gregory and Shirley Ebbitt are named on the title deeds as joint owners.  Gregory Ebbitt, who worked as a builder in the US, has not been heard from while the cottage has fallen into utter disrepair. He had in the past claimed that it is his ambition to renovate the cottage but said he received no cooperation from the government. 

Sadly, according to McCormick, it’s down to the property’s owner to save the White O’ Morn cottage and it is only Galway County Council who have the power to compel the owner to act.

A still from The Quiet Man featuring the White O' Morn Cottage.

A still from The Quiet Man featuring the White O' Morn Cottage.

McCormick asked “How many more winters can it survive just being ignored like this?

“Surely the cottage should now be classified as 'endangered' and substantive action should be taken now before it is lost forever."

In 2014 the Council issued its official guidelines on what a “Protected Structure” is. The cottage was unanimously voted to be classed as "protected".

The guidelines are as follows:

“A structure that a planning authority considers to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social, or technical point of view. It may be a building or part of a building which is of significance because of its architectural or artistic quality, or its setting, or because of its association with commercial, cultural, economic, industrial, military, political, social or religious history.”

McCormick pointed out that “This location’s real-life history combined with its international recognition and association with The Quiet Man movie creates a very special marriage of history, culture, and art – which fulfill the Council’s specific criteria in a totally unique way."

Read more: John Wayne’s love of Ireland and The Quiet Man

However, the protection, in this case, the huge amount of restoration needed, must be carried out with the permission and knowledge of the building’s owner.

According to the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, the responsibilities of maintaining a Protected Structure lies in the hands of its owner.

They state:

“Every owner and/or occupier of a Protected Structure must ensure that the building, or any element that contributes to its special interest, is not endangered. Endangerment can be caused by deliberate or accidental damage, decay or neglect. The same duty applies to the owners and occupiers of a Proposed Protected Structure.”

Sadly, according to McCormick, it is the Galway County Council “have refused, to follow-up on their own 2014 designation (not even sending a simple letter to the owner) - despite having full legal authority to request the owners fulfill their obligations under Irish law.”

McCormick clearly frustrated by the sad situation is disheartened by has no plans to relent.

Maureen O'Hara, as Mary Kate Danaher in The Quiet Man.

Maureen O'Hara, as Mary Kate Danaher in The Quiet Man.

He told IrishCentral:

“I did make a personal promise to Maureen O’Hara that I would never give up trying - and I won’t.

It was Maureen’s dearest wish to see her movie home with John Wayne restored - so sad it could not have been done in her lifetime.

“That being said, I do have numerous contacts and resources that could make the cottage restoration a reality.”

However, this can’t be done without the involvement of the cottage’s owner. McCormicks suggestion for IrishCentral readers and Quiet Man lovers? “Perhaps, lobby Galway County Council to enforce the legislation that it unanimously voted for and put in place.”

Have your say? Do you think the Quiet Man’s White O’Morn cottage should be restored as a tourist attraction? Let us know in the comments section below.

Read more: Where was the movie "The Quiet Man" filmed?