Flying boat museum
The Foynes Flying Boat Museum is dedicated to recalling that historic time from 1939 to 1945, when Foynes, Ireland, became the center of the aviation world. On July 9th 1939, Pan Am's luxury Flying Boat, the "Yankee Clipper" landed at Foynes. This was the first commercial passenger flight on a direct route from the USA to Europe. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, this quiet little town on the Shannon became the focal point for air traffic on the North Atlantic.
During this period, many famous politicians, international businessmen, film stars, active-service-men and wartime refugees passed through Foynes. In fact, the site was initially surveyed in 1933 by Colonel Charles Lindbergh and his wife Ann, who landed in Galway Bay flying his Lockheed Sirius. In December 1935, the Irish Times announced that Foynes would be the site for the European Terminal for transatlantic air services. Colonel Lindbergh returned again representing Pan Am in 1936 to inspect the facilities and also in 1937 to view the departure of "Clipper III".
In 1942 Eleanor Roosevelt arrived in Foynes under the alias "Mrs. Smith". Earlier that year, Captain Charlie Blair, later to become the husband of the actress Maureen O'Hara, had made the first non-stop passenger flight from Foynes to New York in 25 hours, 40 minutes. In that same year, Chef Joe Sheridan poured the first ever cup of Irish Coffee for passengers awaiting their flight.
The era of the flying boats was colorful but brief. In
1945, hundreds of people watched as Captain Blair piloted the last
American Export flying boat out of Foynes to New York. Upon arrival, he
turned around and piloted the first landplane, a DC-4, back to open the
new airport at Rineanna, later to become the Shannon International
Airport. Shortly afterward, Pan Am, after 2,097 Atlantic Crossings
through Foynes, made their last flight to Lisbon from Foynes. Only a
day before, their first landplane had also landed at Rineanna.
In 1942, Brendan O'Regan opened a restuarant and coffee shop in the Foynes terminal building and employed a Chef named Joe Sheridan. It was not long before Joe realised that the passengers coming to wait in the terminal in cold and rainy weather needed something to make the coffee a bit stronger. Thus, Irish Coffee was born.