Expanded Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum opens

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, have today officially opened a €5 million redevelopment of the world’s largest flying boat museum and the home of Irish coffee in Foynes, County Limerick.

The Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum, the largest of its kind in the world, captures the story of how Foynes became one of the world’s great aviation hubs of the world between 1937 and 1945 when the waters of the Shannon Estuary launched Ireland’s first commercial transatlantic services.

The project received funding €1.75 million under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund (RRDF). An additional investment totalling €1.75 million was provided by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.  A further €1.5 million was provided by the museum, Limerick City and County Council and from sponsorship.

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Speaking at the event today the Taoiseach said: “It’s great to be back in Foynes to officially open the redeveloped and expanded Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum. This is one of my favourite museums in Ireland, and which tells the remarkable story of how Foynes pioneered transatlantic flight, with those remarkable flying boats carrying passengers between Ireland and the US in the 1930s and 1940s.

“The museum has been extensively redesigned with significant investment from the Government. There’s a 100-seater cinema, new exhibition rooms with state-of-the-art technology, flight simulators, a research centre, and a Tourism Information Office. This is a really good example of the Government’s commitment to regional development, ensuring that every part of Ireland enjoys the benefits of tourism, and the employment that tourism brings.

“The report of the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce identified tourism as a future growth industry for the region.  I believe attractions like this wonderful museum will help to encourage more visits to the region by sea and by air, thus strengthening Shannon Airport and Shannon Foynes Port. It also ties in well with our plans to re-open the railway line between Limerick and Foynes.”

Capt Davina Pratt, Aer Lingus, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Eamon Brennan, Chair of Foynes Museum – Photo: Arthur Ellis.

Speaking at the official opening today, Minister Humphreys said: “The opening of the redeveloped Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum marks a historic day for Foynes and Limerick.

With the support of €1.75 million from my Department’s Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, this museum has undergone a major transformation over the past two years.”

“The investment is an example of how we can achieve great things if we work together, and it demonstrates our commitment to helping our rural communities go from strength to strength in line with the national rural development policy, Our Rural Future.”

The development also incorporates the Maureen O’Hara Exhibition celebrating the late actor’s career achievements, her personal memorabilia, and her family links to the Museum.

The new library features aviation publications dating back to the 1930s whilst the Archive features original hand-drawn weather maps from 1937 to 1946, hundreds of newspapers, aviation artefacts and the Foynes Port inventory of every aircraft that came in and out of Foynes.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD added: “Tourism visitors to Ireland are seeking experiences that are culturally unique, and I was pleased to be able to provide €1.75 million from my Department to this iconic museum that tells the story of Foynes’ culture and heritage and its surroundings. The museum provides local employment and also supports sustainable tourism development by drawing visitors to a rural region of Ireland.

“I want to congratulate Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum on the completion and opening of this project. Vision, dedication and perseverance were required in order to bring the redevelopment to fruition and I commend all involved in the project.”

Eamonn Brennan, Chair of the Board of Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum commented: “We are very proud to further enhance the experience for visitors to Ireland’s largest aviation museum and to further expand on our offering in Foynes.

We are working to create more employment as an all-year-round tourism, educational, research and cultural attraction, and provide conference and event space for the many companies based in the west Limerick area.”

Margaret O’Shaughnessy, CEO and Founding Director of the Museum with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – Photo: Arthur Ellis.

According to Margaret O’Shaughnessy, CEO and Founding Director of Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum: “We are delighted to continue to expand our visitor attraction beyond the museum and to establish ourselves as a globally known location for aviation enthusiasts, scholars and researchers with our expansive library and archive collection, as well as being the only place in the world where one can step on board an exact replica of a Boeing 314 Clipper flying boat ‘The Yankee Clipper’.”

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