NEWLY US Secretary of state John Kerry made an unannounced stop at Shannon Airport this evening while returning from his first official trip overseas.
Mr Kerry's Special Air Mission (SAM) aircraft arrived at Shannon at around 3.00pm for a scheduled but unpublicised technical stop.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore was on hand to meet Mr Kerry, who had been visiting Europe and the Middle East on his first trip abroad as America's top envoy.
Shannon Chairman Rose Hynes and airport director Mary Considine welcomed Mr Kerry in the VIP suite at the airport.
In January, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved Senator John Kerry as the new secretary of state with just three Republicans voting no. He succeeded former US First Lady Hillary Clinton who held the post of secretary of state for four years.
Mrs Clinton is no stranger to Shannon and on one trip while her husband was President, she spent several hundreds of Euro in the airport's duty free shop during a stopover.
Mr Kerry, who has also visited Shannon in the past as part of diplomatic missions, spent almost two hours in Shannon where he relaxed while his aircraft was refueled under the watchful eye of Secret Service personnel and gardaí.
Before leaving, Mr Kerry posed for a photograph with Eamon Gilmore in front of a painting depicting President John F Kennedy's departure from Shannon following his 1963 visit to Ireland.
Mr Kerry's flight departed Shannon again shortly after 5.00pm.