WHEN the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum re-opened for visitors this Thursday, it had yet another award added to its already sizeable collection
The museum last week scooped the Best Museum at the Industrial Heritage Association of Ireland awards for 2017, an accolade that was doubly sweet as the previous winner was Titanic Belfast, proving yet again that Foynes punches well above its weight.
Museum director, Margaret O’Shaughnessy could not have been more pleased. The award, she said, came just at the right time.
“We have had a very rough months since the museum was flooded at Christmas,” she said. “This was a great gee-up and is also coming just as we re-open for the season after carrying out a big renovation job.”
She recalled the flood, when the entire floor of the museum was flooded, up to a depth of two feet or more in some places. “It even got into the flying boat, “Ms O’Shaughnessy pointed out. “Fortunately, we were able to get the most valuable pieces out of the showcases.”
But the graphics, the heating system, the wiring, the flight simulator and the children’s room were all damaged. “It took 27 years to get the museum to this point and it was all wiped out in one night,” Ms O’Shaughnessy said. “We were back to bare walls and floors. We had to start from scratch.”
The bill to recreate the museum came to over €500,000 most of which was met by insurance but leaving the museum with a substantial shortfall nonetheless. And it took a huge effort to get the job done in time for the season, or lose out on contracts.
But, according to Ms O’Shaughnessy, the result is an enhanced museum, which is even more appealing than ever. And she urged people to come and see the refurbished museum for themselves.
She also revealed that the museum will shortly acquire yet another new feature. “We are expanding and developing a new room to house the Irish Coffee Story,” she explained. That story began on a cold night in the 1940s when chef Joe Sheridan mixed coffee with Irish whiskey and a dollop of cream to warm up flying boat passengers arriving at the terminal in Foynes, now the museum. “The new addition will be open next month,” Ms O’Shaughnessy said resolutely.
The IHAI Awards are funded by the ESB.