Foynes and the Flying Boat Museum

Foynes and the Flying Boat Museum

Foynes in County Limerick is a small town with one of Ireland’s major shipping ports. The town is located in the Midwestern Region of Ireland. The port is located on the southern part of the River Shannon.

The port has a rich history dating back to 1837 and lots of ships pull in there each year. The port is managed by Shannon Foynes Port company. Shannon Foynes Port Company is the second biggest in Ireland handling over 10 million tonnes of important cargo each year.

The population of the area is about 950 people. The port town is located around a 40-minute drive from Limerick city and around 1-hour drive from Tralee in Kerry Ireland. Foynes was Ireland’s first international airports and operated during World War Two and the area played an important role in the war.

See the article on things to do and see in Adare here!

Foynes is located on the Wild Atlantic Way route which is one of Ireland’s best road trips, the Wild Atlantic Way runs 2,500 kilometres and is a very scenic route, this route is the longest coastal route in the whole world. The Foynes viewpoint area is a nice place to stop and take some photos of the ships in the port or of the Shannon estuary.


Foynes played a huge role in aviation during the 1930s and 1940s, some planes didn’t have a huge flying capacity back then. Foynes was a perfect location for seaplanes crossing the Atlantic on the eastern shore paths.

The area became one of the biggest passenger airports in Europe during World War Two. The 1930’s seen flights from Foynes to Newfoundland in North America. Shannon Airport in County Clare was built and opened in 1942 which seen the closure of the flying boat station at Foynes in the year 1946. In 1954 an Irish Language college opened in Foynes in the former terminal building.

Visitor Centre

The visitor centre is opened 7 days per week from Mid March to Mid November.

Dates and Times

21st of March to the middle of November 9.30 am to 5.00 pm

June to August 9.30 am to 6.00 pm

Last admission to the centre is one hour before closing time

Special groups times are available and the centre is opened on Bank Holidays

Ticket prices

Adults 12.00 euros

Children under 5 FREE

Children up to 14 years old 6.00 euros

Students/Seniors 10.00 euros

Family Tickets 30.00 euros (two adults and up to four children)

OFFER – Try an Irish Coffee for 6.00 euros or at a special price of 5.00 euros with your visitor centre ticket

Irish Coffee invented in Foynes

In the year 1943, a new restaurant and coffee shop was opened in the Foynes terminal building, this restaurant was opened by Brendan O Regan. This restaurant gained great reviews and became well known as one of the nicest restaurants in Ireland at the time.

One of the chefs working in the restaurant Joe Sheridan from County Tyrone came up with the idea for a warm drink for passengers on a cold winters night in 1943. A flight from Foynes to New York had to turn back to after bad weather and Joe Sheridan was waiting for the passengers to give them some food and some refreshments. Joe put together the Irish coffees, which was genius really.

One passenger thanked Joe for the nice hot coffee and whiskey beverage and asked if the coffee was Brazilian and Joe replied “No it was Irish coffee” and the Irish coffee was born and was served from then on at Foynes and later at Shannon Airport where Joe worked when the Airport opened in 1942.

Irish Coffee Recipe

1 – Preheat your glass, fill your glass with some boiling water for 5 seconds and then pour out the steaming water.

2 – Put one teaspoon of brown sugar and a measure of Irish whiskey into the hot glass.

3 – Premix coffee and boiling water and pour in some hot coffee and fill the glass to within 1 centimetre from the top of the glass.

4 – Top with whipping cream and make sure the cream floats on top of the hot coffee and whiskey mixture.

5 – Don’t stir the mixture, leave to cool at drinking temperature.

6 – Enjoy!

Flying Boat Museum

The flying boat museum is a really nice place to visit and has some cool stuff to see and a lot of information to take in. It’s a great place to stop on route to Kerry from Limerick and its on part of the Wild Atlantic Way route. The museum opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, no pre-booking is required. The last entries into the museum is 1 hour before closing time.

Aviation Museum

There’s a number of cool things to see in the museum, there is a maritime museum section and an aviation museum section. The museum is home to a replica of a Boeing B314 flying boat plane, this plane had many luxury features and has a 14 seater dining room onboard. This replica is part of the displays at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum to give everybody a taste of the interesting design of the old flying boats.

A flight back in the day from Foynes to New York one way cost 375.00 dollars. There are flight simulators displays in the museum. The museum has the original radio and meteorological equipment used during the flying boat operation including radio transmitters, typewriters and receivers.

Maritime Museum

The maritime museum section has a lot of interesting stuff to see, there is a 360-degree view of the village of Foynes and the River Shannon from a reinstated large control tower.

You can watch a display of a paddle steamer and learn about life on the river in the past and up to modern times. You can learn about the Irish boats called Cuurachs through informational displays and learn about large commercial and leisure ships that came into the Foynes port.

There are some American civil war uniforms on display that were made in Limerick and shipped by boats from Foynes.

Maureen O Hara

The Foynes Flying Boat Museum is home to a large display of Maureen O Hara memorabilia, including some of her personal belongings. The famous Hollywood star Maureen O Hara married Pilot Brigadier General Charles Blair in 1968. Mr Blair flew some flying boats into Foyne’s between the years 1942 to 1945. Mr Blair flew the last seaplane to Foynes in 1945.

Maureen O Hara officially opened the Foynes Flying Boat Museum in July 1989. Maureen O Hara was a regular visitor to Foynes and was a patron of the museum before she passed away in 2015.

She appeared in many famous movies including the Quiet Man with John Wayne which was filmed mostly in Ireland in the 1950s. She was awarded an Oscar in 2014 for a lifetime achievement award, this wonderful Oscar is on display in the museum exhibition with lots of costumes and dresses belonged to the Hollywood superstar.

Amenities in the Museum

The museum is often home to events for corporate companies and fashion shows. The building also can host weddings, music events and product launches. There is a great little gift shop on the site which has some nice Irish products. O Regan’s restaurant is a great spot for food or maybe a famous Irish coffee.

Foynes Annual Air Show

The annual air show begin in 2014 with the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the amazing transatlantic flying boat flights which touched down in Foynes.

The event has won awards from the IAI Irish Aviation Industry. The air show brings a lot of visitors to Foynes and is a boost for the local economy, highlighting the rich aviation history of the area and the show is a world-class event with thrilling displays.

New Plans For Foynes Port

There is a plan to spend 20 million euros to improve the maritime industrial economy in Foynes on a large 83-acre site. The plan is to raise the large 83-acre site by 4.4 metres and install new roads and a roundabout and bridges.

The project is called Vision 2041, it includes spending a further 64 million euros to develop Foynes port into one of Ireland’s leading economic areas. The plans are to turn Foynes port into a freight hub and create jobs in the deep-sea water port. The plan is part of the Irish government’s national development plan. This plan is great news for the local area and very welcome news for the local economy in Limerick and County Limerick.

I hope you find this article useful, I welcome any recommendations suggestions by email


John C

All Things Ireland

John C

Hey, my name is John Conway and I love travelling around Ireland. I have a passion for All Things Ireland. I love the Emerald Isle! I love Guinness and green fields!

Recent Posts