A VAST collection of objects and clothing belonging to the late Maureen O’Hara has been unveiled at Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, 29 years after the Hollywood star officially opened the same building.
The items, which include outfits, personal documents and an Oscar, are now available to view in the Foynes museum, with which the Irish actress had a great relationship throughout her lifetime.
In fact, this Monday morning marked 29 years and one day exactly since the star cut the ribbon on the museum. Today, the ribbon was cut by Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Patrick O’Donovan TD.
Margaret O’Shaughnessy, founder and manager of the museum, said that the new exhibition is a “temporary measure” until a new wing dedicated to the filmstar is completed.
“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.
Maureen O’Hara was the museum’s patron until her death, after she was introduced to Foynes by her late husband, pilot and airline owner Capt Charles Blair, who flew in and out of Foynes throughout his career, particularly during the flying boat days of WWII.
The Dublin-born actress rose to fame in the 50s in Hollywood, with films such as The Quiet Man, Miracle on 34th Street and Rio Grande, to name just a few.
The two-room exhibition, which cost €100,000 to build, 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 passports and makeup case.
The exhibit includes a display room for her memorabilia and a small cinema area with a six-minute rolling film on her life, music, film and fashion. The proposed new wing will have a full-sized cinema screening area and more rooms to show off the full collection, the lion’s share of which was donated by Conor Beau.
Many items are now on display, but hundreds of objects will remain in storage until the new wing is opened. The finished exhibit will house the majority of Maureen O’Hara’s personal collection.
Margaret O’Shaughnessy added to the collection herself at a Bonhams auction in New York, where some of Maureen’s other memorabilia went under the hammer.
“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,” said Margaret.
“It has been a tough year for the museum as we have fought to overcome 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.”
And the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum had much to celebrate this Monday. Today, July 9, was also the 79th anniversary of the first commercial passenger Pan Am flight from New York landing in Foynes.
And on this day in 1934, Foynes was the hottest spot in Ireland - at 32.2 degrees celsius.