Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum 30th Birthday

20th June 2019
The Yankee Clipper flew across the Atlantic on a route from Southampton to Port Washington, New York with intermediate stops at Foynes, Ireland, Botwood, Newfoundland, and Shediac, New Brunswick. The inaugural trip occurred on June 24, 1939. The Yankee Clipper flew across the Atlantic on a route from Southampton to Port Washington, New York with intermediate stops at Foynes, Ireland, Botwood, Newfoundland, and Shediac, New Brunswick. The inaugural trip occurred on June 24, 1939.

The Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum on the Shannon Estuary is gearing up to mark yet another milestone, the 30th anniversary of the opening of the museum itself.

On July 8, 1989, the late Hollywood star, Maureen O’Hara Blair officially opened the museum at a colourful ceremony attended by hundreds of overseas and local supporters and dignitaries.

Now, almost thirty years to the day, the museum will celebrate its continued growth and development with a day of family fun, entertainment and fireworks on Sunday, July 7 in Foynes.

“It’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed,” museum director Margaret O’Shaughnessy said, recalling the big efforts that went into establishing the museum. “It all started with a big idea,” she continued, “but there was huge support for that idea from the late entrepreneur Tony Ryan and his company, Guinness Peat Aviation, Shannon Development and from former flying boat crew members and staff as well as from the local community council and in 1988 a small group of dedicated people set about making it a reality.”

From the beginning, also, the support of Maureen O’Hara for the project was crucial in helping open doors, Ms O’Shaughnessy added. “Her late husband, Captain Charlie Blair, had flown many times into Foynes and flew the first passenger nonstop flight Foynes-New York and holds many records on the North Atlantic. He also took the last commercial flight out of Foynes and came back to visit in his Sandringham Flying Boat in 1976.

The museum was intended to record and to celebrate Foynes’ unique place in Irish aviation history and its pivotal role as a transatlantic aviation hub from 1937 to 1945. It was also intended to remember those men and women who had flown and staffed the flying boats in what were difficult times and to illuminate the stories of those who passed through Foynes in those heady days.

“Many of those on the passenger lists were household names or became household names, people like Bob Hope, Gracie Fields or John F Kennedy and this generated huge excitement in the village,” Ms O’Shaughnessy said.

The original GPA Flying Boat Museum was a modest affair, housed in four rooms leased from the then Foynes Harbour Trustees to the rear of the building which once served as the flying boat passenger terminal.

In the three decades since, new memorabilia, new artefacts and new elements to the story have been added and the museum has expanded to house them as well as the full-size replica of a B314 flying boat. It now occupies the entire original terminal building along with new extensions and the control tower has been restored. The museum has also extended its reach to include the maritime history of the estuary, the story of Irish Coffee and the Maureen O’Hara collection. The museum complex now also houses a restaurant “O’REGANS” named after the late Dr Brendan O’Regan.

Now known as the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, it has garnered many awards and continues to be the global repository for the memories and memorabilia of the flying boat era and is the only museum of its kind in the world.

The museum now employs 26 people and attracts 60,000 visitors each year and these figures continue to increase, making it one of the prime destinations for tourism in Limerick.

“So many people have contributed in so many ways over the years to help make the museum the success it has become, and the support of the local community has been vital,” Ms O’Shaughnessy said. “We are grateful to all those who have played a role, big or small and we hope they will all join with us in our 30th birthday celebrations on July 7.”

The celebrations begin at 1.30pm with a recital by the Army Band No 1 Brigade in Museum Square. From 2pm to 5pm, family entertainment will continue in Museum Square with Disney characters, a circus show, face painting and much more.

At 3pm, in keeping with the spirit of the day, there will be a fly-past by members of the Irish Historic Flight foundation (Weather permitting) and at 3.30pm, local band “Escapade” will entertain the crowds in Museum Square.

At 11pm, there will be a spectacular fireworks display over the Shannon.

Published in Shannon Estuary
Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

You might also want to read...

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Car Brands

subaru sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events 2020

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating