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A History of Innovation

For over 80 years, our unique family of businesses have played an integral role in driving economic growth throughout the region. Although only formally established in 2014, this amalgamation of three successful companies is rooted in a pioneering history with a crystal-clear focus on inspiring the local economy and community.
In 2014, Shannon Airport, Shannon Heritage, and Shannon Commercial Properties were successfully fused under the Shannon Group banner with one goal in mind. By maximising the potential of the airport, and its surrounding land and properties, while harnessing the power of heritage tourism, we could build something truly unique. We now have one brand with the capability to drive our region forward and continue our story for generations to come.


Shannon Airport 1930s

Significant Dates & Events

2019: Shannon Heritage announce €6m transformation programme for Bunratty.

2018: Shannon Group employees raise over ¼ million euro for charities
  • Shannon Group win Business of the Year from Limerick Chamber
  • Shannon Commercial Properties complete €40m investment in SFZ
2017: Shannon Group celebrates the centenary of Dr O’Regan’s birth.

2015: Shannon Heritage win contract to operate GPO Museum.

2014: Shannon Group is formed.

2013: Shannon Airport granted independence from DAA
  • Formation of International Aviation Services Centre (IASC)
  • Shannon Airport reports 17% increase in passengers
2010: Shannon Airport became the first airport outside the US to offer US Customs and Border Protection to private aircraft, yet another world’s first.

2009: Shannon Airport became the first airport in Europe to have full United States Preclearance Services following the construction of a new US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance facility for commercial operations.

2008: Customs and agriculture inspections added for Shannon Airport passengers and cargo.

1988: Aer Rianta Ireland, ARI was established.

1987: Shannon Heritage Founded.

1986: A United States border preclearance facility opened in Shannon Airport, eliminating the need to go through immigration on arrival in the United States.

1963: US President, JFK, flys into Shannon Airport for his tour around Ireland, and begins a traditional visit of subsequent US Presidents to Shannon.

1960: Opening of Bunratty Castle
  • Shannon also became known as the gateway between Europe and the Americas as few aircraft could make the journey without refuelling here.
1959: The Shannon Free Zone (SFZ) was developed with the founding of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company known as Shannon Development.

1947: Shannon Airport became the world’s first duty-free airport.

1945: The country’s first transatlantic airport was established at Shannon to meet the demands of developing aircraft technology with a permanent runway and airport.
  • 24th October - the first scheduled commercial flight, an American Overseas Airlines DC-4, passed through the airport.
  • 16th September - the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am DC-4, landed at Shannon from New York City.
1939: Shannon Airport's first transatlantic flights used a flying boat terminal at Foynes on the south side of the Shannon Estuary.

Shannon Free Zone:  the world's first free trade zone

Shannon Free Zone – the world’s first free trade zone

Shannon Free Zone was established in 1959 and was the world’s first free trade zone. At the time, Shannon’s success depended on transatlantic flights stopping to refuel here. But advances in aeronautic technology meant that those days were numbered as commercial aircraft would soon have the range to bypass the airport.

Shannon Airport’s director at that time, Brendan O’Regan, submitted a proposal to the government to establish a distinct manufacturing zone with special tax incentives. This would create much needed jobs and specific Shannon Airport bound air traffic. The site adjacent to the airport was established in 1959, and expanded some years later to include Smithstown.

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