The dilapidation of the “Quiet Man “cottage, affectionately known as the “White O’ Morn “cottage.
Situated in Tiernakill south, Maam, County Galway. It became one of the centrepieces of Hollywood Director John Ford’s highly acclaimed and often criticised Romantic Comedy film “ The Quiet Man “ released in 1952.
THE FILM : Being born the son of Irish emigrants who had arrived in America from the shores of their native Galway. While the dream of making such a film harboured within the heart of John Ford since obtaining the rights to the story back in 1933. The screenplay by Frank S. Nugent was based on a 1933 Saturday Evening Post short story of the same name by Kerryman Maurice Walsh, later published as part of a collection titled The Green Rushes. The battle to secure financial support within Hollywood and the the onset of World War 2, would delay his dream and ambition for almost 20 years, until filming began in June, 1951.
John Ford won the Academy Award for Best Director, his fourth, and Winton Hoch won for Best Cinematography, following his lush photography of the Irish countryside.
What many people today do not realise, is that this was the first time that Ireland’s scenery was broadcasted to the world in full colour. Which added credence to the many stories told by Irish emigrants to their children, of the Emerald Isle they had reluctantly left behind. Not to mention a “ Golden Nugget “ of an advertisement for the Irish Tourism Industry. That still attracts visitors to this Island today, 70 years after it’s release.
In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
FILM LOCATION SITES : To this day, there are several of the film locations involved, visited on a regular basis. The popular ones being the village of Cong, and the grounds of Ashford Castle in County Mayo. Ashford Castle, “ Ballyglunin train Station “, W.B.Yeats Tower, Leam bridge in Oughterard, Clifden, Clonbur and Lettergesh Beach, Renvyle, Connemara, in County Galway. It also brings visitor’s to An Spideal, where John Ford’s parents hail from. Ford was born John Martin “Jack” Feeney (though he later often gave his given names as Seán Aloysius, sometimes with surname O’Feeny or Ó Fearna; an Irish language equivalent of Feeney ).
THE COTTAGE : Many of these film locations are readily available to access and visit. Sadly the cottage in Maam, is not much more then a pile of stones. While the little footbridge to the cottage is still intact, the cottage itself has fallen to the ravages of time. Then owners Walter and Bridget Joyce were paid by the film’s producers for use of the outside of their home with its rose garden, while the indoor scenes were recreated in Hollywood where a replica of the cottage was made.
The cottage’s owners built a larger new house for themselves on the proceeds and allowed the cottage slip into ruin. In the mid 1980’s The property was purchased by a Canadian and California resident. A gentleman, Paddy Rock, organiser of the 50th anniversary Quiet Man celebration, was among the first to call for some action to be taken, aware of the tourist potential and the rate at which the building was sadly disappearing. The cottage which is located in the Gaeltacht area of County Galway, however an attempt by Údarás na Gaeltachta over a decade ago, and more recently by former arts minister Jimmy Deenihan, to engage with the owner on a long-term plan came to nothing, Paddy McCormick, a musician who played at Maureen O’Hara’s 80th birthday, was also convinced and has done a lot of work to highlight this. Going so far as to commission an architectural appraisal and worked with Sean Ó Tuairisg ( then Galway County Councillor ) and colleagues along with myself, on a protection order which was also backed by Maureen O’Hara, actor Liam Neeson and dancer Michael Flatley. That order was granted in July 2015 and is now in place, however any hopes of a restoration or reproduction is unlikely to ever happen, as the structure lies within a flood prone area which is also a protected nature reserve.. It is only fair to mention the trojan support this campaign received from colleagues such as June Parker Beck ( Maureen O’Hara’s close friend and Official Archivist to Maureen.) http://moharamagazine.com/ Gary McEwan, Mario Brogan, Joe Fields, and Margaret McCarthy.
DELAPIDATION PROCESS : For several years the topic of how it came to ruin, has been asked and debated. Yes, there were some stones belonging to the cottage removed by Quiet Man fans, as keepsakes. As Paddy Rock pointed out when himself and myself were interviewed by a UTV News crew on location at the site during the campaign to have the structure placed on the protected list. UTV Ireland Report on the Quiet Man Cottage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ebjz4rmCKIU
Several years ago I was sent a wonderful photo of Maureen O’Hara and the cottage owner Bridget Joyce sitting at the fireside within the cottage by Bridget’s daughter, Sylvia. Recently I have been kindly granted permission by Jannet Walsh and her brother Michael Walsh for use of a couple of their Father’s wonderful photos, taken while on his visit to Ireland in May 1953. Jannet Walsh also https://jannetwalsh.com
Alas one of these photos, taken of the cottage. Reveal that the cottage had already began it’s course of dilapidation, less than 2 years after the filming. Already the new house was built and close examination of the photo shows the stones were in stacked place to block the windows of the original cottage. Over 70 years of neglect and weather assisted elements have finally taken their toll.
Sadly this reminds me of Phil Coulter’s haunting lyrics in his song “ The Town I Loved so Well “ :“ What’s done is done and what’s won is won, and what’s lost is lost and gone forever “
proc. BY MOVIES