There's always two sides to every story, and the funny thing about this one is that both sides have the same idea about the final outcome and that is to see the complete restoration of 'The Quiet Man' cottage - The White O Morn.
The tumbled-down cottage and its surrounding landscape are barely recognisable from the pretty thatched cottage were John Wayne first kissed Maureen O'Hara and took her to live in marriage (which had to wait till he had cinemas longest ever punch-up with Squire Danaher before being consummated) in John Ford's classic Irish western.
On one side of the battle-line is Gregory Ebbitt the Californian-based Canadian who owns the property and who moans on about the difficulties of getting the cottage restored over the last 25 plus years, due to governmental red-tape and disinterested local builders on the website the White O’Morn Foundation, U.S.A. (Mr Ebbitt is listed as being on the advisory board of the Foundation)
Yet it has been reported that he has ignored recent letters and emails from Jimmy Deenihan, the Irish Minister of Arts and Culture, to work towards getting the cottage restored. Is it because he has lost faith in the Irish Government over the years? If indeed he has not responded, then he is being rather childish to believe he can restore the cottage without the government's blessing. While the current ministers interest seems sincere, has Mr Ebbitt become so jaded with the Irish government, which, being made up of that shifty, power yesterday gone today, investment hungry breed - the politician, that he feels unmoved by their current bleating?
And what happened to the go-getter Gregory Ebbitt, who said in an article by Jilly Beattie for The Mirror in 2005, "Now I'm ready to go again and I just hope that I will get some help. I have ideas of my own about rebuilding the cottage and I know the standards have to be excellent."
An article that even posted a positive quote from the Irish side, via Paddy Rock, "We have been battling for years to get a project like this off the ground but it just hasn't happened. We don't want the cottage to be lost, it is a very important part of our culture now and its time for everyone to act together to make it part of our future."
Maybe the current stalemate is Mr Ebbitts desired plan, taken from the same article, where he revealed his desire to open the cottage as a holiday rental. That doesn't quite fit with 'open to the public' the Irish have in mind. They picture tourists trooping through Sean Thornton’s homestead by the dozen and buying tons of mass-produced memorabilia and other tat, with 'black market' stones from the cottage fetching exorbitant sums. (And that is after calling upon the American's to hand in all the stones they took)
On the Irish side we have the likes of Mike Ward, Paddy Rock, Fine Gael TD for Mayo, Michelle Mulherin and Paddy McCormick. They are keen to move forward from Mr Ebbitt's apparent lack of communication and are pushing for a compulsory purchase order, or using legislation to save the cottage under the National Monuments Act 1994 on the basis that the structure is of artistic, cultural or historic importance. (According to the White O’Morn Foundation, U.S.A. a previous compulsory purchase attempt failed)
Is it also a question of both sides having different ideas for the project apart from the one thing they both agree on, which is to restore the cottage to how it looked in the film. There's car-parking to consider. And how many gift shops to put up, museums, maybe a replica Squire Danaher's house and Pat Cohan's bar, Bed and Breakfasts and cafes (And sadly The Yanks will insist on at least 5 fast food oulets. Idea: A green Irish McSlurry with real Irish mcslurry). Maybe the Irish are worried that Mr Ebbitt wants to turn it into an Oirish Hollywoodland and caravan site.
So what we've got are two sides both chasing the same dream, but due to previous actions and inactions (Which is a very polite way of saying it), are not speaking to each other. Sounds like a level-headed mediator (Stephen Fry or Silvio Berlusconi anyone?) is called for to sooth ruffled feathers and calm tempers, or in Silvio's case a few greasy backhanders and la morte, and get the feckin cottage restored.
You can check out the Save The Quiet Man Cottage Facbook page here