Stone by stone the Quiet Man cottage disappears
One of Mayo’s most famous tourist attractions is on the brink of disappearing, Marian Harrison reports. The Quiet Man cottage is in ruins as film fanatics collect its stone as memorabilia of the famous film. The Cong cottage was the primary setting for the 1950s film which portrayed rural Ireland through the life of Thornton (John Wayne) and McLaglen (Maureen O'Hara). Today, the cottage, named White O’Morain is a shadow of its former self with no thatched roof and no emerald green half door, while weeds replace the rose garden. Paddy Rock, a Quiet Man fan and the founder of The Quiet Man Movie Club, has made a plea from the heart to have the cottage restored. He says tourists taking stones as memorabilia from the cottage has led to its disintegration. "One woman boasts of building her fireplace with the stones from the Quiet Man cottage. It’s terrible," Paddy told the Western People.
I’m just wondering how many Quiet Man cottages there are. I understood that the cottage at Maam Cross was the ‘real’ Quiet Man Cottage which had already been transplanted stone by stone from its original location to the more commercially viable location next to the shops there at Peacocks. I can’t quite place the heap of rubble in Cong that the Western describes so poignantly with all those American tourists removing it piecemeal. I can imagine the scene at customs in JFK. "Anything to declare?" "Just a few stones from the Quiet Man Cottage – the one in Cong" Or the chaos at security in Shannon when the X-Ray machine shows up an extra-dense object in the suspiciously heavy carry-on bag. "A bomb in your luggage Mam?" "No it’s just a stone from the Quiet Man Cottage in Cong - I’m building a fireplace back in Boston."
Flynn: I won’t be naming names
Flynn could be construed as a bribe. The identity of the person at the centre of the mystery was named privately to the Chairman and members of the tribunal during a sitting last week. It had been speculated that the Gilmartin contact person was a high ranking member of Fianna Fáil. However it is now being speculated that it may be a member of the tribunal staff who Mr Gilmartin suggested was responsible for his change in testimony. Asked, immediately after he had concluded his evidence, who the person named to the tribunal was, Mr Flynn refused. "If I was to mention the name," said Mr Flynn, "I would be in contempt of the tribunal. "And not alone would I be in contempt, but so would you and so would the Western People," he stated.
I’m not sure if this is a Freudian slip or what but that first sentence - at least in the online version of the Western People this week as quoted above: ‘Flynn could be construed as a bribe’ must surely be missing something like ‘£50,000 payment’?
Five-year masterplan is set to transform Mayo’s county town
A new area plan was recently unveiled by Castlebar Town Manager, Mr Ray Norton. The plans include proposals for the development of the town over the next five years. Majella Loftus takes a look at what it entails. Changes are afoot in the town of Castlebar. Unveiling a new area plan which is to incorporate the newly extended areas which come under the urban boundary, the Town Manager explained plans have been put in place for a new development at Saleen. Mr Ray Norton said the Mayo County Council owned lands that are to be developed to include a commercial centre, integrated housing and leisure facilities. This area is to be developed with great sensitivity and there should be plenty of dialogue with the people of the area. There have been substantial planning applications for this part of the town over the past two years which have been met with valid objections by its residents. Mr Norton was explaining the priorities for the council following June’s local elections. In these are changes for roads, sewage, housing, sports facilities, etc. It is hoped that with the ever increasing expansion of the town, these proposals will further enhance the area and entice businesses and people alike to make Castlebar their home.
Reading the extensive outline of the plan in the Western I’m was a bit disappointed by it – even though it is good to see a longer-term plan for the town. The Saleen development, the expanded sewage works, new playgrounds, upgraded sport facilities at GMIT, new public housing, the new river walk, pay and display, the new Barrack Bridge access to the Castle Street Car Park, traffic management including control of rat races through places like Maryland and St. Brigid’s Crescent – these are all good ideas and sorely needed. But somehow it’s all a bit boring.
There’s nothing really with that ‘wow!-factor’ to create a bit of excitement. Obviously you need buckets of money to create something like Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum building – a real wow!-factor building which is drawing people to Bilbao that would never have thought of going there before. Perhaps the new Museum building at Turlough is the Castlebar equivalent of Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum or Barcelona’s cathedral project? Or maybe it’s the redesigned Market Square which also came up against a lot of opposition from those who seemed at the time to want to remain as it was - a dingy, dilapidated, dirty, tarmac car park? Credit too for the way the town’s roundabouts have been revamped – due to one person I believe who deserves huge credit for his landscaping –especially when you remember what they used to be like. The revamping of the courthouse is excellent too (and I do like the new paint job – very understated especially in comparison with the idiotic idea of painting the pillars red and green).
But the museum and the Market Square are there already – and a testament to the vision and persistence of those who brought them about against a lot of resistance and inertia. But we shouldn’t stand still – all the above projects came from the last century. The last group of county councillors – many of them back to haunt us again - just threw out an excellent document that outlined sensible planning practices and suggested an architectural style for rural Mayo. The councillor’s – and by extension the ordinary voters of Mayo – have displayed an incredible ignorance and contempt for our visual environment. Hopefully the town councillors will realise that the visual impression a town makes is paramount for those of us living and working in the town never mind visitors. The architectural design standard of some of the new commercial housing in the town leaves a lot to be desired – the development in the vicinity of what was known as Flannelly’s Field, for example, is a blight on the town. The contrast with the council’s own attention to detail even on the footpaths and parking spaces outside their own new houses is stark. Can planning permission be refused simply on the basis of ugliness?
So a few ideas - what about an architectural competition for a bandstand where kids can practice or for a footbridge across the river or a skatepark or picnic area? Am I asking too much when I ask for a simple no-cost item like an order banning any new plastic signs over shops in town – a practice that has been hugely successful in places like Kilkenny? The council should forbid the building of any structures in the town – private or public – that are not designed by fully professional architects who are paid-up members of the professional body for architects – it’s not enough to let a draughtsman or an engineer masquerading as an architect do the job. They should also check out examples of the professional’s previous work before granting planning permission. Otherwise the town will end up like a dump. Our Town Council also has to stand up to those petty commercial concerns when vested interests fight against competition on their patch – but that’s another days work…..