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Foynes (Faing in Irish) is a small town and major port in County Limerickmarker in the midwest of Irelandmarker, located at the edge of hilly land on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuarymarker. The population of the town was 606 as of the 2006 census.

Foynes's role in aviation

It is noteworthy for having been, in the early years of aviation, the last port of call on the eastern shore of the Atlanticmarker for flying boats. Surveying flights for flying boat operations were made by Charles Lindbergh in 1933 and a terminal was begun in 1935. The first transatlantic proving flights were operated on July 5, 1937 with a Pan Am Sikorsky S-42 service from Botwood, Newfoundland and Labradormarker on the Bay of Exploitsmarker and a BOAC Short Empire service from Foynes with successful transits of twelve and fifteen-and-a-quarter hours respectively. Services to New Yorkmarker, Southamptonmarker, Montrealmarker, Poolemarker and Lisbonmarker followed, the first non-stop New York service operating on June 22 1942 in 25 hours 40 minutes.

Foynes Flying Boat Museum

All of this changed following the construction and opening in 1942 of Shannon Airportmarker on flat bogland on the northern bank of the Estuary. Foynes flying-boat station closed in 1946. A college for the learning of the Irish language was opened in the former terminal in 1954. The Port Trustees purchased the building in 1980 and the Foynes Flying Boat Museum leased a portion in 1988.

One of Foynes's main claims to fame is the invention there of Irish Coffee. This came about, it is said, in order to alleviate the suffering of cold and wet passengers during its aviation days in the 1930s and early 40s. The Foynes Flying Boat Museum contains much memorabilia from that era, including the original radio and weather room, along with its equipment and a full-size replica Boeing 314 flying boat.

Foynes's role as seaport

Foynes as a port has a longer history, being first surveyed in 1837, and is now the location of a major deep water seaport operated by the Shannon Foynes Port Company, an amalgamation under the Harbours Act 2000 of the agencies operating the ports of Limerick and Foynes. It is anticipated that more traffic from the upstream Limerick Port will ultimately be diverted there as the latter portlands are redeveloped as commercial and residential properties. A railway line to Limerick via Patrickswellmarker and Raheenmarker is in existence but not operational. Iarnr√≥d √Čireann's policy of concentrating on what it sees as more profitable passenger operations means the Port's traffic is entirely served by road.

Foynes Port Company was amalgamated with the Shannon Estuary Ports Company (which had responsibility for the other areas of the Estuary) in 2000, to form Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC). SFPC is the second largest port facility in Ireland, handling over 10 million tonnes of cargo annually through the six terminals currently operational. Planning permission has been granted for an LNG import terminal at Ballylongford, Co. Kerry, within SFPC's jursidiction, which will add considerably to throughput once constructed. Full details of the port's activities and capabilities are available at their website, www.sfpc.ie .

Transport

Foynes railway station was opened on 29 April 1858, but closed to passenger traffic on 4 February 1963. The line is not currently operational but the port authority and others maintain contact with Irish Rail to review opportunities for reopening it for future bulk cargo projects.

Places of interest

Foynes Flying Boat Museum.

Knockpatrick Gardens, an award winning 3 acre garden overlooking the scenic Shannon Estuary is located 2 km from Foynes.

Foynes is near to Adaremarker, a famous heritage town, and the city of Limerickmarker. The main gateway to the region is Shannon Airportmarker. Foynes is located on the N69 "coast road" to Tarbertmarker and Traleemarker in County Kerrymarker.

Sports

Saint Senan's GAA club draws its players from the parish centred around Foynes and the neighbouring town of Shanagolden. Although it has fielded hurling teams on occasions, it is primarily a Gaelic football club and, after winning the intermediate championship in 2003, Saint Senan's were narrowly beaten in the final of the 2006 Limerick Senior Football Championship. Its predecessor, the Foynes team, won its only senior championship in 1907.

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