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09:00.

The weather here in Limerick has been (to use the local vernacular) ‘shoite’ It’s been chucking it down overnight and the forecast remains mixed for the rest of the day although the sun is breaking through to defy predictions. Undeterred, we’re embarking on a bit of a tour today, taking in some of the historical, cultural and railway sites as well as the scenery on a roundabout trip that will eventually see us end of in Cork where we’ll base ourselves for the next few nights. Keep popping in through the day and see what we get up to. For now, here’s a shot from Limerick showing the 13th century King John’s castle.

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As you can see from the fullness of the river Shannon, there’s been plenty of rain recently!

11:10.

We left Limerick just as the heavens opened, treating us to a torrential rainstorm that’s left roads and pavements awash and us warm and dry in the car as we head for out first stop of the day: Foynes.

15:10.

The Gods have smiled upon us and the weather’s brightened up, making our visit to the Flying Boat museum in Foynes much more pleasurable. This is an excellent museum that documents when the River Shannon played a pivotal role as a base for the air-bridge across the Atlantic to America when flying boats dominated the trade before the war and subsequent advances in aviation technology killed it off in 1945. As well as a fascinating mixture of memorabilia there’s also the full size recreation of the fuselage and interior layout of the largest of the flying boats, the ‘American Clipper’. If you’re in the area I’d recommend a visit. The museum also hosts a section on the Irish-American film star Maureen O’ Hara (who was married to a pilot who flew flying boats in and out of Foynes during the war), the origins of Irish Coffee and also a look at the history of Foynes harbour. Here’s a few pictures from our visit.

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Memento’s, trinkets and even the remains of a crashed flying boat in one of the museum galleries.

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The replica of one of the luxurious Boeing B314 flying boats used by both American and British companies on the Atlantic crossings.

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Interior of the B314 replica

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The spacious flight deck of the B314 which could accommodate seven people.

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Fold-out beds in the cabins of the B314.

16:00.

Moving on from Foynes to Listowel we visited another museum, but to a very different era and very different technology. This one was a dead end – the Lartigue monorail system that was used on the 10 mile long Listowel and Ballybunion railway between its opening in 1888 until its closure in 1924. The museum was opened in 2008 on the site of the former broad gauge railway adjacent to the original route of the L&B. It has a 500 metre demonstration track complete with the unique turntable switches used on the monorail, along with a replica of one of the engines and some carriages. The replica engine is actually a diesel hydraulic as building (and maintaining) a steam replica would be prohibitively expensive. In the former goods shed is a museum to the line which has some excellent quality old photographs of the line, plus a superb old newsreel which was filmed on the route back in 1916. The whole site is run by volunteers who give you a warm welcome and an informative tour.  Here’s some of what we saw.

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Yes, the headlamp really was that big!

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One of the switches in action. They’re curved as that way they can connect with lines closer to each other than if the track on them was straight, but you can’t turn locomotives on them. That’s only done on straight turntables.

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The museum inside the former board-gauge goods shed has some really excellent quality old pictures of the L&B as well as a selection of railway memorabilia.

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22:13.

After leaving Listowel we essentially ran out of time to explore. Instead we drove down to Tralee for a late lunch, then headed on Down to Cork where we’ve booked 3 nights in a lovely Airbnb, which is where we’re relaxing now. Tomorrow we’re up early and heading out to explore the coast as the weather forecast’s looking promising, so expect another rolling blog.

 

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