A major extension to one of Limerick’s leading tourist attractions, Foynes Flying Boat Museum, was opened yesterday by Michael Ring TD, Minister of State at the Department of Tourism and Sport.

The minster officially launched the new maritime section which tells the story of one of Ireland’s great maritime assets, the River Shannon. The exhibits on display details the geology, personality and mythology of the estuary stretching from Limerick docks down to Loop Head, marking the mouth of the Shannon at its seaward limits.

The diverse topics on display include navigational charts and maps of the river, the geology, tides, weather and leisure on the Shannon, the story of transportation and emigration on the river, and the development of Foynes harbour through the centuries. It also exhibits the different types of ships and boats used on the river and recalls the story of transportation and emigration on the river including the manufacture and export of confederate uniforms shipped from the Tait factory in Limerick through the Federal blockade of Southern ports during the 1860s.

All these stories and many more are on display with a combination of interactive technology, artefacts, replica exhibits, and a stunning view of Foynes from the recently reinstated Control Tower. The Shannon Foynes Port Company recently launched the company’s master plan vision up until 2041, and the museum is doing its part to preserve the past for the future.The new addition to the award winning Flying Boat Museum completes the overall plan which was first envisaged back in 1987 when a small group of interested people got together to look at the possibility of establishing a Flying Boat Museum in Foynes.

The new museum was part funded by Fáilte Ireland under their National Development Plan 2007 – 2013 programme. Total investment in this phase was €1.5m, 75% funded from Fáilte Ireland. The rest was funded through the Museum’s own resources and with financial assistance from Limerick County and City Council.

This brings the total investment in Foynes Museum to €4.5m over the past 25 years. Sixteen jobs are supported and 40,000 visitors will have passed through the Museum this season. The Museum achieved the 2013 Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor and features in many TV holiday shows and docu-mentaries both at home and overseas.

(See page 36.)