'One of the most fascinating and influential people of our time' - Businessman Dr Brendan O'Regan honoured
The 100th anniversary of the birth of the innovative businessman credited with spearheading development in Ireland's Mid-West has been marked with the unveiling of a bust in his honour.
Among Dr Brendan O'Regan's achievements are founding the world's first Duty Free at Shannon Airport, developing the world's first Free Trade Zone in Shannon, transforming the Shannon College of Hotel Management and turning Bunratty Castle into a major tourist attraction.
Dr O'Regan is also responsible for the creation of Shannon Free Airport Development Company (later Shannon Development) and was one of the driving forces behind Ireland's only 20th century town, Shannon.
He was headhunted in the early 1940s to take over as Catering Comptroller at Foynes flying boat base before moving to Rinenna Airport (later renamed Shannon Airport), where he started to push for economic development in the region.
He once said of his motivation: "I thought Shannon would be a place where people coming off the aircraft would be making decisions in regards to the the people of Ireland and it would be our chance to sell Ireland...
"There has to be a new idea produced that deals with reality and reality is that that airport needs almost a city created around it.
"The way to do that is take the villages of Clare and uplift them."
To honour his remarkable achievements a bronze bust of Dr O'Regan by sculptor and painter Elizabeth O'Kane was unveiled at the Shannon terminal building.
Next to the bust is a six panel exhibition on his life and work, which was lent to the airport by Clare County Museum.
Rose Hynes, Chairwoman of the Shannon Group, spoke about Dr O'Regan's legacy.
She said: "Dr. Brendan O’Regan was one of the most fascinating and influential people of our time. He was a renaissance man, a pioneer of regional development, charismatic and charming; a man who brought a passion and determination to every task he undertook.
"He rarely took ‘no’ for an answer and he was very driven in pursuit of his projects. He wasn’t afraid to think big. His initials ‘BOR’ in Shannon came to mean ‘Bash on Regardless’.
"He saw opportunities, not limitations and his ability to reach for the skies had a transformative effect on this region and beyond.
"He firmly believed in following your dreams and never giving up on an idea."