ROMEOs travel to Foynes
Former Commodore Gerry O’Neill’s ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out) began their new season of winter monthly outings when on Thursday 3rd November forty-one of them visited the Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum. The day began when the bus departed HYC at 09.30. A number of members, in fact most of them, were very disappointed that, despite Gerry’s promise, the bus did not have a toilet. As a result and when the bus stopped to break the journey at Obama Plaza in Moneygall, the last thing the Retired Old Men were thinking of was coffee - Mother Nature’s call was stronger.
After the re-start they arrived at the museum and were warmly welcomed by Barry O’Kelly, Operations Manager & Archivist, and his very hospitable colleagues. Following a very interesting and informative short video that showed the development and history of Foynes, which flourished as the hub of aviation between North America and Europe. This was followed with a conducted tour of the Museum in two groups.
Deciding that the Museum needed to offer visitors the experience of how it must have actually been like to be a passenger on one of these wonderful flying boat aircraft, they commissioned to have a full replica built rather than just one compartment of the aircraft. Exploring this exact replica from nose to tail is of course the highlight of a visit.
The newly installed cockpit simulator attracted the “pilots” in our group and who endeavoured to transfer their wheel landing aircraft experience to float landing on water. They failed!
The maritime section of the museum mainly covers the commercial history of Foynes and in my opinion lacks adequate recognition of local sailors like Conor O’Brien from Foynes Island who was involved in the 1914 Gun Running and who was the first person to circumnavigate the World flying the Irish tricolour in his yacht Saoirse 1923 -1925.
Foynes will be forever connected with the “Irish Coffee” this uniquely Irish treat and as with anything in Ireland; the weather played a key role.
In 1943 a flight departed Foynes for Newfoundland and after several hours was forced to return due to bad weather conditions. On their return Chef Joe Sheridan was asked to give the passengers something warm and so he decided to put some Irish whiskey into their coffee. One of the passengers approached Joe and asked him if he used Brazilian Coffee? Joe jokingly answered, “No that was Irish Coffee!” and the rest is history.
We were given great demonstration on how to make it and when the demonstrator asked for a volunteer to help her Gary Davis won the stampede and has now been award with a medal in recognition of his great achievement. I recorded this momentous occasion and if possible will include with this report. I just missed the beginning when they warmed the glasses at the start. Chief ROMEO Gerry O’Neill was presented with a certificate outlining the various steps in the making of the Irish Coffee.
After a very enjoyable lunch, accompanied of course with lots of the “special coffee”, the homeward journey began and like the outward journey, Obama Plaza provided a welcome pit-stop before continuing back to Howth arriving at 20.15 hours.
On behalf of the other thirty-nine ROMEOs I would like to thank Gerry O’Neill and Gerry Sargent for a great day.
The group’s next outing is on Thursday 1st December to the ESB Power Station in Turlough Hill – with thanks to Jim Stanley’s connections.
Report by Pat Murphy,