Places to visit in Europe


Foynes Once the centre of the world of aviation, Foynes is now a major seaport situated on the Shannon estuary.

During the late 1930's and early 1940's, and particularly during the last World War, this quiet Limerick town became the focal point for air traffic crossing the North Atlantic between the United States and Europe with the landing and taking off of luxury flying boats, usually Sunderlands. On the 9th of July 1939, Pan Am’s first commercial passenger flight landed, offering a direct route to the USA. The Boeing B314 could carry 35 passengers and even had a dining room where seven-course meals were served. In 1942, the first non-stop flight to New York was made from Foynes by Charles Blair in a Sikorsky 44, albeit with little fuel to spare. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Foynes was chosen by the United States as a refuelling stop since it had a port, a railway station, and a petroleum company based in the town. All these history-making events are covered in 4 exhibitions displaying graphics, photographs, memorabilia, a complete room full of old aviation radio equipment, weather service equipment, Morse code emitters, etc. The museum offers a unique look into the passengers, technology, cost, and luxury of flying in 1945. An authentic 1940's-style cinema screens "Atlantic Conquest", a 17- minute film compiled from original footage.

Preparatory visit offered to teachers. Audio-visual facilities available. Languages : German, French and Italian are catered for. The museum looks at the history of the flying boats from the passenger’s point of view : duration of flights, communications, fares, maintenance, the luxury of travel, passenger conditions and how all this changed with the Second World War. Ireland remained a "neutral country" which naturally attracted spies from various European countries travelling in disguise. The museum can be reached in an hour from Shannon airport and 2 hours from Cork airport. Visitors travelling from the West of Ireland can reach the museum via the car ferry across the Shannon river.

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