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Trip Report Foynes Flying Boat Museum

Today’s offerings from the airlines are a far cry from the rarified world provided by PanAm and others in the late 1930s when they offered flying boats to the rich and famous. Although none of those luxurious and unique aircraft has survived into the present day, there is a spot where one can visit and actually go aboard what is represented to be an exact replica. That spot is the Flying Boat Museum in the wee town of Foynes in County Limerick:

We had gone to Foynes on our first trip to Ireland in 1966 specifically to visit this museum about which my wife had read a short piece prior to our departure. For reasons unknown to me today, we were unsuccessful in our attempt to visit the museum then. My wife and I both recall that the only thing visible that first visit when we got to the designated site was a small locked building which looked like a storehouse. When we visited on this trip the cashier said we must have been mistaken as the museum had opened the previous year. No matter, we were there now (September 2012) and the visit was well worth our time.

Having been born in 1935 and enamored of anything that flies I have always found the China Clippers to be fascinating. My interest in them has been kept alive as I have lived in Honolulu and San Francisco, both of which were bases for them and where faint relics of their existence remain. In addition, we’d visited the Shannon estuary, as noted above, on which Foynes is situated, as well as flying on Jet Blue in and out of the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia, New York, both places where the B314s were home-ported decades ago. If you love aviation history you will probably have as good a time as my wife and I did when we went to Foynes the second time.

As a side note, we got a late lunch at the restaurant which is co-located with the museum. All we wanted to eat was a small something to tide us over prior to the killer meal we were expecting to eat that night in Dingle. The ladies in the restaurant agreed happily to our request to split a sandwich and a large bottle of Diet Coke. To our pleasant surprise, when it arrived we had each been given our respective half on separate plates on which a small portion of salad had been placed for each complete with forks. They had even brought two glasses with ice for us. This was refreshing, welcoming, and exceptionally hospitable of them. It made the visit all the more memorable and is just another one of the many reasons we love to travel.

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