€100,000 Maureen O’Hara Exhibition Opens in Foynes

Patrick O’Donovan Jnr Minister Department of Finance cutting the ribbon at the launch with Cllr. Stephen Keary, Michael Collins Deputy Mayor Limerick City and County, Cllr. Emmet O’Brien, Michael Noonan TD, Margaret O’Shaughnessy Founder and Manager of the Flying Boat Museum, Tom Neville TD and Cllr Adam Teskey.

The costumes, Oscar, designer dresses, corres-pondence and personal items of the Hollywood great, Maureen O’Hara have gone on display for the first time at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum. Some 29 years and one day after Holly-wood legend Maureen O’Hara cut the ribbon on the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, two specially designed rooms hosting her most prized possessions and memorabilia were officially opened on the same site.
The €100,000 exhibition which includes her costumes and accessories, glamorous red carpet outfits, correspondence with movie stars and world leaders, international awards including her Oscar and many personal items including her passport and makeup case, was officially opened by Minister of State for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Patrick O’Donovan TD on Monday morning.
The two rooms assigned to the Maureen O’Hara Exhibition in the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum include a display room for her memorabilia and a small cinema area with a six-minute rolling film on her life, music, film and fashion.
For more than a quarter of a century the life of Maureen O’Hara and the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum was intertwined.
The Hollywood star was first 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.
Maureen O’Hara officially opened the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum on July 8th, 1989, the 50th anniversary of the first commercial passenger crossing of the North Atlantic. She became the museum’s patron and remained so until her death on October 24th 2015.
She was also a regular visitor to the Irish Coffee Festival in Foynes, which coincided with her birthday, and in 1991 the museum hosted the European Premier of her last major movie ‘Only the Lonely’ directed by Chris Columbis and starring John Candy, Ally Sheedy, Milo O’Shea and Anthony Quinn.
Founder and Manager of the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum Margaret O’Shaughnessy told guests at the official opening that the new exhibition space was a temporary home for the unique artefacts, and that work had already begun on designing a new wing to host the complete collection which includes hundreds of items currently in storage.
“This exhibition is designed to show a very, very small selection of the entire collection that was donated to the museum by Maureen O’Hara’s grandson, Conor Beau Fitzsimons. We have designed a new extension for the museum to house the complete collection and are awaiting funding to do just that. Ideally we would love to open the new wing on August 17th, 2020, on the centenary of the birth of our late patron Maureen,” said Ms O’Shaughnessy.
“The Maureen O’Hara Exhibition cost €100,000, which was partly funded by Limerick City and County Council, and I would like to acknowledge the local authority’s contribution.”
“It has been a tough year for the museum as we have fought to overcome damage caused by serious flooding this past winter. An investment of €580,000 to repair the damage means the museum is even better than ever, and today we welcome a new addition in the form of the Maureen O’Hara Exhibit,” Ms O’Shaughnessy said.
The Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum had much to celebrate during the glamorous Hollywood themed event to commemorate the new exhibit.
Monday July 9th was also the 79th anniversary of the first commercial passenger Pan Am flight from New York landing in Foynes.
And while more than 70 guests sipped their orange juice and cocktails at the Maureen O’Hara Exhibition opening under the sun of the 2018 heatwave, they were reminded that on this day in 1934 Foynes was the hottest spot in Ireland at 32.2 Degrees Celsius.
The Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum is expected to remain one of the hottest spots this summer for tourists visiting the mid-west and the Wild Atlantic Way with thousands of Maureen O’Hara fans expected to join maritime and aviation enthusiasts in visiting the world renowned museum on the Shannon estuary.