ARTS and Culture Minister Jimmy Deenihan got a public but polite rebuke yesterday from Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara when he broached her age at a function she attended in Co Limerick.
Opening a new exhibit at Foynes Flying Boat Museum, Mr Deenihan praised Ms O’Hara as “a great example to people over 90” years of age.
Ms O’Hara, sitting with about 150 guests, interjected: “I am not over 90, I am 90 and will not be 91 until the 17th of August.”
Ms O’Hara went on to say she had a certain longevity plan for Foynes.
“Please God, the ones up in heaven are saying to God, ‘don’t let her up here for another while, give us some peace’. Crikey it would be wonderful to spend my 100th birthday in Foynes.”
She told Mr Deenihan that she was a very proud Dub and a lifelong supporter of Shamrock Rovers, having been brought up in Milltown, Dublin, near the original Rovers ground.
“When I lived in Milltown I never missed a match and my dad was a patron of the club. I am terribly proud of Shamrock Rovers and one of these days I will go up and go to a match. But it will break my heart if they were to lose.”
Ms O’Hara said she was proud to represent Ireland in the motion picture industry, where she made 64 films.
She said: “There was not one flop, thank God. A couple weren’t that good, but never a flop. The Quiet Man was one of the greatest pictures every made. Another great movie was Miracle on 34th Street. I am told there was a remake, but it was not as good as the original.”
She married Capt Charles Blair, who was the senior captain flying into Foynes between 1939 and 1945.
A guest at yesterday’s exhibition opening was Lal Kirwan Dowley, aged 86, who was the first airline hostess based in Foynes.
She is featured in the 3D holographic exhibit that captures the stormy night in 1943 when the chef at the airport restaurant in Foynes, Joe Sheridan, made the first Irish coffee. Ms Kirwan Dowey escorted a group of drenched passengers on the launch which brought them ashore from a flying boat that had to turn back due to bad weather.
Lal, from Dublin, was the passenger services hostess, and asked chef Sheridan to make the group something special as they were cold and wet.
With a spark of originality, he produced a bottle of Powers Whiskey, to add to the coffee. Brendan O’Regan, the restaurant manager watching Joe, suggested for presentation the new combination of coffee, cream and Irish whiskey be in a stemmed glass rather than a cup.
And with that, the legendary drink was born.
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