Discovering The Past Maureen O’Hara At Foynes Museum

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All the style and glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood is to go on permanent display at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, Limerick, thanks to the generosity of the family of its late patron, Maureen O’Hara.

All the style and glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood is to go on permanent display at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, Limerick, thanks to the generosity of the family of its late patron, Maureen O’Hara.

For more than a quarter of a century the life of Maureen O’Hara and the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum was intertwined; and the special relationship will now continue after her death last year. Conor Fitzsimons, the grandson of Ireland’s first Hollywood Superstar, has bestowed almost all of Ms O’Hara’s memorabilia on the museum. 

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. And it is not just her Oscar that will be displayed in the County Limerick museum, but every international award she received, never before seen personal items, her collection of Meissen China, and many other fascinating items.

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The Hollywood Star’s Oscar, Film Memorabilia and Fashion will now be on display at Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, Co. Limerick.

Maureen O’Hara 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. Then, 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 was the woman tasked with contacting the Hollywood star. “I was given her telephone number in Glengariff so I called her, I was terrified, but I needn’t have been. She was wonderful and fully supported the idea, and promised to do all she could to promote it.

When it was built she officially opened it on 8th July 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. Each summer she would join us in Foynes for the Irish Coffee Festival which coincided with her birthday, so she would also celebrate her birthday in Foynes.


We had a special celebration at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare for her 80th birthday. All her family flew in for it. In 1991 we hosted the European Premier of her last major movie ‘Only the Lonely’ with John Candy, Ally Sheedy, Milo O’Shea and Anthony Quinn, here in Limerick at her insistence.”

“Now the family have decided to donate almost all of her memorabilia to the museum and we are honoured to house it in a new wing of the museum which is currently being designed.”

Of course, Foynes has another claim to fame as the place where the first Irish coffee was made. Indulge in some of Ireland’s harbour history, with a touch of Hollywood glamour, followed by a glass of that warming concoction this winter – visit
www.flyingboatmuseum.com for more.

Read more from The Limerick Magazine here.

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