‘Quiet Man’ cottage to be restored after decades of neglect

It has gone to wrack and ruin, having been neglected for 27 years.

But moves are finally under way to restore crumbling White O’ Morn, the once-iconic, thatched cottage where John Wayne wooed Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man.

In the past months, two separate talks have taken place between Culture Minister Jimmy Deenihan and the remote cottage’s previously elusive owner, California-based Canadian, Gregory Ebbitt, about transforming the Co Mayo dwelling into a €4m heritage and cultural centre.

Mr Ebbitt snapped up the cottage — located about 18km from Cong — in 1985, and signalled his intention to restore it.

But up to recently attempts to contact Mr Ebbitt failed, leaving campaigners at a stalemate in their mission to renovate the property.

However, Mike Ward, founder of campaign group, Save The Quiet Man Cottage, said talks were finally under way and the project could be completed by 2015.

He said the Government recognised the structure could potentially generate over €20m in revenue from the thousands of tourists who descend on Cong every year.

He also said Mr Ebbitt would continue to be a stakeholder in the project, as he has indicated he has no wish to part with the property.

Mr Ward said the bulk of the €4m needed to fund the project would be generated from fundraising activities in the US, targeting corporate donations and Hollywood.

He said: “There’s no doubt it has the potential to be an absolute goldmine and everyone sees that. We’ll be mounting a big fundraising campaign to make this work in the next couple of months.”

Meanwhile, tourist chiefs in Cong are getting ready to welcome up to 5,000 fans of the film next weekend for a three-day festival to celebrate the movie’s 60th anniversary.

O’Hara, who turned 92 last Friday, will be the first star to be honoured.

* www.congfestival.com.

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