Calls for memorial to honour late ‘Shannon visionary’

SENIOR tourism figures in the Mid-West yesterday called for a memorial to commemorate Shannon visionary Dr Brendan O’Regan.

The Lahinch-based vice president of the Irish Hotels Federation, Michael Vaughan, repeated the call made by director of Shannon Hotel College of Management Philip Smyth for a memorial to the late Dr O’Regan.

Mr Vaughan said it would be appropriate if Shannon airport was renamed the Shannon O’Regan International Airport.

He said: “Whatever is done, I believe that it has to go beyond a concrete memorial. A memorial would be nice, but I believe that it has to be more substantial than that.”

Mr Vaughan said that Mr Smyth’s call “is very timely”.

“Dr O’Regan is a Shannon visionary. He gave us a sense of identity and of pride in the Shannon region and he gave a spirit to the region.

“The one lamentable thing is that there is no one in the region today who has Dr O’Regan’s dynamic energy or vision.”

Born in Sixmilebridge in 1917, the late Dr O’Regan is credited with leading the development of Shannon Airport and Shannon Development and establishing the world’s first duty-free shop. He passed away in 2008.

Mr Smyth said: “It is no exaggeration to say that Shannon Airport, Bunratty Folk Park, Shannon Town, Shannon Free Zone and Cragganowen would not exist without Dr O’Regan’s work.

“O’Regan was a public servant in the best sense of the word, devoting his life to the improvement of his region and later, his country. When he realised that duty-free was going to be so successful, he ordered that his commission to run the airport be reduced.”

Mr Smyth said the permanent memorial “should be raised not just in memorial but also to remind us of the values he stood for and the certainty that adversity can always be turned to progress if the right people do their best”.

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