Ireland Day 7 – The Flying Boat Museum, Irish Coffee and Maureen O’Hara

Today was our last full day of the trip. We would stay overnight at the magnificent Killashee Hotel in Kildare. Our flight was for 10 am the next day which meant a 5:30 departure from the hotel. I will combine that with this last post.

In the afternoon we headed to the Flying Boat Museum. One of the things I truly liked about the Senior Discovery Tours is the interesting and unknown tours they plan. Like the Skellig Experience in the morning. I had no idea what a flying boat was so looking forward to learning something new.

We made a stop at a lookout that had a great view of the north shore of Loch Leane and Killarney National Park. The multinational cleaning product company Unilever has a factory on the shore. They also built a golf and country club resort. There was a big parking lot for buses but we had to cross a very busy road. Our driver, Ian, was on lookout and gave us the go signal to cross.

The Flying Boat Museum is located in Foynes in the County Limerick. Jayne came up with a group challenge. She invited anyone to write a limerick about our trip and we would read them at the evening dinner. Challenge accepted.

In addition to presenting the history of the flying boat, there is also a maritime museum which charts the history around the River Shannon. The flying boats were active in the 30s and 40s before the abundance of runways. The boats took off from the River Shannon in Ireland and flew a direct root to Bootwood, Newfoundland, Canada

The first flights were made to prove it could be done. On July 5th, 1937, the first flight went from New York to Bootwood then on to Foynes. Once they doing regular flights, there would be a watcher in Foynes. Because of unpredictable weather, if a flight was coming in during the night, the watcher with his horse would ride around the town to wake up the ground crew.

We were treated to a movie that presented the history of the flying boat. The room was setup and decorated like a movie theatre from the 1940s. The movie contained archival and newsreel footage. It was a little hard to understand at times but the film made for authenticity.

The big highlight was a tour of an actual flying boat to see what people experienced at the time.

The seats were wide with lots of hip and leg room.

Sleeping berths.

Washroom area, nice and spacious. The toilet was in the back on the right.

Kitchen for meal preparation. Meals were included on the flight. The cost of the flight was about $10,000

The cockpit was used for flying and monitoring the gauges. Notice there are no power controls.

Engine and wing control was done by another pilot at a different station. The last flight of the flying boats was October 27, 1945.

After to tour, we were treated to another aspect of Foynes’ history – the invention of the Irish Coffee. The museum has an Irish Coffee Centre just for that. The Foynes airport became a stepping stone for international travellers who could afford the ticket – movie stars, business tycoons, etc. In 1942, Chef Joe Sheridan started added cream and Irish whiskey to the coffee of incoming passengers. By the 50s he had perfected the recipe.

Heat a stemmed whiskey goblet
Pour in one jigger of whiskey
Add one spoon of brown sugar
Fill with strong black coffee to within one inch of brim
Stir to dissolve sugar
Top off with whipped cream, slightly aerated, by pouring it over the back of a spoon so that it floats
Do not stir after adding cream as the true flavour is obtained by drinking the hot coffee and Irish Whiskey through the cream

Now the fun part came. The museum guide had asked me if I would demonstrate the making of an Irish coffee. He went through step by step and each step I duplicated what he had done. I did spill a wee drop of whiskey on the counter but the guide said I could lick it up later – kidding .

Proudly holding my Irish Coffee. As a thank you I was given and official Foynes Irish Coffee maker medal.

Proof on my upper lip that I drank through the cream.

I was also given a scroll of “The Story of Irish Coffee” – suitable for framing.

However, there was more to this place – an exhibition on the Hollywood actress Maureen O’Hara. There was a sign outside the building which I saw when walking to the building. I checked with my tour manager, Jayne, and I had time to view it.

In 1968, Maureen married Brigadier General Charles Blair. Blair had flown flying boats between 1942 and 1945. He had lived in Foynes. She retained a connection to Foynes, cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony to the museum in 1989. Her grandson, donated a large collection of Maureen’s cinema belongings to the museum. This included the lifetime achievement Oscar she got in 2014. The museum created a permanent exhibition.

Such a treat to experience flying boats, Irish coffee and Hollywood memorabilia at one stop. We headed off to our hotel and final group dinner. I could have easily spent more time at the Killashee Hotel. It has quite a history. There is archeological evidence of a ring fort going back 1000 BC. A monastery was established in 500 AD. It became a landed estate, with castle and house in the 18th century. An interesting side point is there are caves nearby that have been discovered, lost, then re-discovered in 2005. They were thought to be used to store grain.

We sat down for dinner – I with my single malt Irish whiskey. Each of us who had prepared a limerick read them out. Here’s mine
There once was an old man from Toronto
Who loved to eat the potato
So he travelled to Éire
With a group of oldies
And ate mashed spuds with great gusto.

Jayne had our scheduled posted. There would be no time for an early walk. The hotel would prepare a boxed breakfast for us. The next morning there was another large group leaving just ahead of us. Looked like a soccer group of young people. The lobby was packed at 5:30 am.

We made it to the airport in time. I got in the line up with my group but then remembered I had Priority boarding. So I slipped out the the economy line and passed through Priority. The plane took off on time, I looked out the window and said goodbye the the Emerald Isle.

6 comments

  1. Thanks again Larry for sharing this wonderful journey with us! I’ve learned so many interesting facts about my own homeland and Scotland. I’m feeling quite sad it has come to an end! Loved the ‘saying goodbye to Ireland’ photo. Reminds me of the joy I always feel when flying back home and seeing those “40 shades of green!”

    Slainte Mhaith Larry 👍👏😀
    P.S. Ya made a damn fine Irish Coffee!`

    • Thanks Ann. I had been wanting to visit both Scotland and Ireland all my life. I didn’t know which to do first. This trip allowed me to experience both. I want to go back but still can’t decide which one first as both countries are magnificent. Unless I win the lottery I’ll have to put that on hold for awhile. Glad I had some readers to share this experience with.

  2. I found your summary of the tour detailed and impressive. It reminded me of a lot of sights that I had already forgotten. Enjoy your next adventure!

  3. Thanks for sharing Larry and allowing me to not only relive the tour with you, but experience the portion we missed as well. Great job!!

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