The Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum is a must see for any self respecting aviation geek or history buff. It is located a little over 35 kilometres from Limerick in Ireland which is well under an hour’s drive.
Foynes is the airport where transatlantic flying boats would alight after their crossing and was vitally important during World War II. Services operated from 1937 to 1945 then Shannon Airport and land planes took over.
Arriving At Foynes
It is easy to find the museum. This is partly because it is well sign posted, partly because Foynes is tiny and partly due to the large triple tail of the Boeing 314 flying boat being right next to the road.
Outside are a couple of aviation related sculptures one of which is a flying boat. The heritage is certainly proudly on show here.
For two months from the end of June to the end of August, Bus Éireann operate a service from Limerick which calls at Foynes. The bus stops right at the museum and the return bus departs directly across the road from the old railway station. Handy!
Foynes Flying Boat Museum
Very friendly staff greet you when you enter and you pay the fee. This is usually €11 for adults which I think is an extremely fair price considering how good the place is. You move into a theatre and watch a 15 minute video on flying boats which is interesting and informative.
After this, you begin to wander through the various rooms which are filled with displays. The first one has a giant flying boat size comparison on the wall and opposite that is some of the history of the services.
It is not all dry facts and figures either. At the bottom of each panel in the first room are humorous little vignettes which I found to be delightful. Following this room is a radio room featuring vintage equipment and then there is the large room about the airlines.
Vintage travel posters are reproduced on the walls which I love as I have some on my own walls at home. In this room are many donated artifacts such as ash trays, log books, tickets, timetables, uniforms and much more. I found some original Pan Am glassware to be my favourite – I wanted them immediately.
Entering the original Waiting Room after this presented more laughs. You have to take time to read some of the period letters reproduced on the walls from Americans and Brits stationed in Foynes. Totally hilarious! From there you go to the room with the Boeing 314 flight simulator which is very popular. Speaking of the Boeing 314…
There’s A Replica Boeing 314 To Scale!
None of the Boeing 314 flying boats survive however Foynes has the world’s only full scale replica. It really is quite impressive and I couldn’t wait to get inside.
My first impression is how spacious it is inside. There is a lot of room so the long flights would certainly pass quite comfortably. The aircraft is also quite long.
Upstairs is where the flight deck is and it is huge. All of the controls for the various pilots are reproduced and provide an interesting look at flying during the late 1930s.
Everything is included such as the galley, passenger accommodation as both seating and berths, plus the private suite in the rear. I have deliberately avoided publishing all the pictures as it really needs to be seen to be believed.
Irish Coffee – Invented At Foynes
Being rather proud of the fact that Irish Coffee comes from Foynes, there is a hologram bar room that you visit which shows how this drink was created.
Irish Coffee is coffee with whiskey with some cream on top. It’s quite nice and you can get it readily enough in bars in Ireland. After visiting the hologram you can go to the Maritime Museum and up into the restored control tower for a view over Foynes.
I have been wanting to visit the Foynes Flying Boat Museum for years and I am dead pleased it is better than I thought it would be. I spent one and a half hours inside checking everything out and that is without seeing the Maritime Museum or the Tower. These were closed on my visit as the annual Foynes Air Show was taking place and the aircraft were being controlled from inside the tower.
The attention to detail and informative yet engaging displays are a revelation. Humour is prevalent throughout which is such a welcome addition to a museum that others should take note. The stars of the show are the airline room with all the historical items and of course the Boeing 314. That plus genuinely lovely employees and a decent on site restaurant make it a must see on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.