The €100,000 Maureen O Hara Exhibition Opens in Foynes

Maureen O Hara Exhibition

Minister of State for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Patrick O’Donovan TD, Manager of the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum Margaret O’Shaughnessy and Celia Holman Lee with one of the Maureen O Hara Exhibition dresses at the opening of the Maureen O Hara exhibition at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media.

The €100,000 Maureen O Hara Exhibition Opens in Foynes

The Maureen O Hara Exhibition goes on display for the first time at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum. The Maureen O Hara Exhibition sets to show off the costumes, Oscar, designer dresses, correspondences and personal items of the Hollywood great. Plans are in place to build a new wing to the museum to house the complete collection donated by Ms. O’Hara’s family.

Some 29 years and one day after Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara cut the ribbon on the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, two specially designed rooms hosting her most prized possessions and memorabilia were officially opened on the same site.  

The €100,000 exhibition which includes her costumes and accessories, glamorous red carpet outfits, correspondences with movie stars and world leaders, international awards including her Oscar and many personal items including her passport and makeup case, was officially opened by Minister of State for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Patrick O’Donovan TD this morning (Monday, July 9, 2018).

The two rooms assigned to the Maureen O’Hara’s Exhibition in the West Limerick Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum include a display room for her memorabilia and a small cinema area with a six-minute rolling film on her life, music, film, and fashion.

Founder and Manager of the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum Margaret O’Shaughnessy told guests at the official opening that the new exhibition space was a temporary home for the unique artifacts, and that work had already begun on designing a new wing to host the complete collection which includes hundreds of items currently in storage.

“This exhibition is designed to show a very, very small selection of the entire collection that was donated to the museum by Maureen O’Hara’s grandson, Conor Beau Fitzsimons. We have designed a new extension for the museum to house the complete collection and are awaiting funding to do just that. Ideally, we would love to open the new wing on August 17, 2020, on the centenary of the birth of our late patron Maureen,” said Ms. O’Shaughnessy.

“The Maureen O’Hara Exhibition cost €100,000,  which was partly funded by Limerick City & County Council, and I would like to acknowledge the local authority’s contribution.”

“It has been a tough year for the museum as we have fought to overcome the damage caused by serious flooding this past winter. An investment of €580,000 to repair the damage  means the museum is even better than ever, and today we welcome a new addition in the form of the Maureen O’Hara Exhibit.”

The Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum had much to celebrate during the glamorous Hollywood themed event to commemorate the new exhibit.

Maureen O Hara Exhibition

The two rooms assigned to the Maureen O Hara Exhibition in the West Limerick Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum include a display room for her memorabilia and a small cinema area with a six-minute rolling film on her life, music, film, and fashion. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

Today, July 9, was also the 79 anniversary of the first commercial passenger Pan Am flight from New York landing in Foynes. 

And while more than 70 guests sipped their orange juice and cocktails at the Maureen O’Hara Exhibition opening under the sun of the 2018 heatwave, they were reminded that on this day in 1934 Foynes was the hottest spot in Ireland at 32.2 Degrees Celsius. 

The Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum are expected to remain one of the hottest spots this summer for tourists visiting the Mid West and the Wild Atlantic Way with thousands of fans of Maureen O’Hara expected to join maritime and aviation enthusiasts in visiting the world-renowned museum on the Shannon estuary.

For more than a quarter of a century the life of Maureen O’Hara and the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum was intertwined.

The Hollywood star 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.

Maureen O’Hara officially opened the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum on July 8, 1989 – the 50 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 24, 2015.

She was also a regular visitor to the Irish Coffee Festival in Foynes, which coincided with her birthday, and in 1991 the museum hosted the European Premiere of her last major movie “Only the Lonely”  directed by Chris Columbis and starring John Candy, Ally Sheedy, Milo O’Shea and Anthony Quinn.

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