Priceless personal items which belonged to Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara will go on display in Foynes Flying Boat a Maritime Museum, in County Limerick. To mark the beloved “Quiet Man” actress’ one-year anniversary her awards, film memorabilia and personal items will be part of a permanent display, with thanks to her family and the late patron.
Conor Fitzsimons, the grandson of Ireland’s first Hollywood Superstar, has bestowed almost all of O’Hara’s memorabilia on the museum. Among the items to go on display is O’Hara’s Oscar and other international awards, costumes and accessories from many of her films, as well as dresses and accessories she wore to major Hollywood events and broadcasts, and personal effects such as her collection of Meissen china.
For more than a quarter of a century the life of Maureen O’Hara and the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum was intertwined, and the special relationship will now continue after her death.
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 to 1945, and 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 in 1978.
In 1988 when the idea of a museum for Foynes was first reached O’Hara, who by then had a residence in Glengariff County Cork. The star was suggested as a potential supporter of the project and it was Founder and Manager of the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum Margaret O’Shaughnessy who was tasked with contacting the feisty Dubliner.
“I was given her telephone number in Glengariff so I called her, I was terrified. But I needn’t have been. She was wonderful and fully supported the idea and promised to do all she could to promote it, O’Shaughnessy said.
“When it was built she officially opened it on July 8th 1989 – the 50th 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 24th last year.”
O’Shaughnessy continued “Each summer she would join us in Foynes for the Irish Coffee Festival which coincided with her birthday, so she would also celebrate her birthday in Foynes. We had a special celebration at the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare for her 80th birthday. All her family flew in for it.
“And in 1991 we hosted the European Premiere of her last major movie “Only the Lonely” with John Candy, Ally Sheedy, Milo O’Shea and Anthony Quinn, here in Limerick at her insistence,” she added.
“When Maureen died last year I was invited by the family to attend her funeral in Washington DC, which I did.
“Now the family have decided to donate almost all her memorabilia to the museum and we are honored to house it in a new wing of the museum which is currently being designed,” O’Shaughnessy concluded.
This Sunday a night of Hollywood glamour will be held in Foynes, the eve of the late actress’s first anniversary, to celebrate her life and achievements, while also beginning the fundraising for the new wing of the museum.
The exhibition will open with a special celebration of her life with rarely seen footage of the actress and clips from her best-known films to provide a backdrop to a fashion show that will display some of her iconic pieces of clothing for the first time by models from the Holman Lee Agency. These items will later make up part of the Maureen O’Hara wing of the museum.
For more information on the exhibition visit www.flyingboatmuseum.com.