Hollywood’s Golden Age lit up the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum as the fashion and style of Maureen O’Hara was revealed to the public for the first time in a spectacular gala event.
The event, the first in a line of fundraisers to construct the new Maureen O’Hara Blair wing of the museum, was officially opened by the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan. He gave his commitment to supporting the project that is expected to significantly increase the 60,000 visitor numbers to the poplar west Limerick tourist attraction.
Owing to the generosity of Ms O’Hara’s grandson Conor Fitzsimons, the world’s largest collection of Ms O’Hara’s memorabilia will go on display in Foynes on completion of the new phase of the museums structure. Among the items to go on display is Ms O’Hara’s Oscar, costumes and accessories from many of her films, as well as the style and dresses the Irish beauty wore to major Hollywood events and broadcasts.
For more than a quarter of a century Maureen O’Hara supported the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum in Foynes and remained its patron until her death – one year ago today. The Hollywood star was introduced to Foynes by her late husband, pilot and airline owner Captain Charles Blair. He flew in and out of Foynes during the flying boat days 1939-1945. It would be more than 30 years later before his wife would join him in Foynes when he landed in his own Sandringham Flying Boat in 1976, and returned again in 1978.
Her relationship with Foynes did not end with the death of her husband however. In 1988 when the idea of a museum for Foynes was first muted Ms O’Hara, who by then had a residence in Glengariff Co. Cork, was suggested as a potential supporter of the project.
Founder and Manager of the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum Margaret O’Shaughnessy contacted the Hollywood star. “When I told her we were thinking of opening a flying boat and maritime museum she said ‘Don’t think, just do, and I will give you all the support I can’,” said Ms O’Shaughnessy.
“She was true to her word and she became a huge and dedicated supporter of the museum and indeed Foynes, taking every chance possible to promote and support the museum. We are therefore delighted to have been afforded the opportunity to put her most prized and personal possessions on display here in Foynes permanently,” Margaret added.
All pics by Sean Curtin (True Media)