Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum: A Surprise Delight on Ireland’s West Coast
The First Irish Coffee was served at Foynes Airport and a tour there teaches you how to make it (Recipe Below!) — you’ll also learn about the “Flying Boat” and the early years of air travel.
“Is this Brazilian Coffee?” asked the American.
“No, it’s Irish coffee,” replied Joe Sheridan.
And so goes how the Irish Coffee was born in the tiny little town of Foynes, Ireland.
Irish Coffee, the Air Boat and Foynes, Ireland
Foynes is known for being an old air base and the early era of flight is entwined with the invention of the Irish Coffee (recipe below). Visitors to Foynes can now visit the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, located in the former airport and which houses the only replica in the world of a 314 Boeing air boat, which you can tour. I wasn’t expecting it to be anything too exciting, but visiting the museum ended up being a top highlight of my trip to Ireland.
It’s pretty neat to wander through the air boat – which was created so the plane could land in the ocean in case of emergency – and get an idea of what it used to be like to fly on one. Back in the day, only 35 passengers flew on the plane with 11 crew members. Passengers would pay $5,000 for the 18-20 hour flight across the Atlantic , which would get them a bed to sleep on and a 7-course meal.
After seeing this piece of aviation history and learning more about air boats (which were eventually replaced by the planes we know of today that land on asphalt, not water) and how the airport was used during World War II, the tour ends with learning how to make Irish Coffee.
The First Irish Coffee
Back in 1943, Chef Joe Sheridan was a bartender at the airport. That year, a flight had to turn back so to cheer up the delayed passengers, Joe served them coffee with a shot of whisky in it (don’t you wish that still happened for plane delays?). An American asked if it was Brazilian coffee since he couldn’t quite place the taste. Joe made up the name of Irish Coffee on the spot and a new drink was born. Joe Sheridan introduced Irish Coffee to the rest of the world when he left Ireland to work at Buena Vista restaurant in San Francisco and put Irish Coffee on the menu.
Visitors to the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum can learn the original recipe as you watch your museum guide make an Irish Coffee. (Followed by handing out an Irish Coffees to everyone to drink! Yes, this may be the best museum tour ever.)
How to Make Irish Coffee
First, you pour in hot water to the glass to heat it up and then pour the water out.
Next, add one spoonful of brown sugar followed by the coffee while the glass is hot. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Up next is the good stuff; add a shot of whiskey to the glass (Powers brand whiskey is used at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum). Stir well.
Next add whipping cream. Don’t stir anymore after you add the cream and drink through the cream. But not before making the Gaelic toast to good health: “Sláinte!”
I was a guest of Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism board of Ireland, during my time at Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, however all opinions on my experience at the museum are my own, as always.