WATCH: Bust unveiled at Shannon Airport to 'visionary' Brendan O’Regan

Duty Free founder honoured on the 100th anniversary of his birth

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

VISIONARY businessman, Duty Free and Shannon Development founder and the man credited with establishing Shannon as an economic force has been immortalised in bronze at the airport on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The late Dr Brendan O’Regan, a native of Sixmilebridge, was honoured at Shannon Airport this Monday as a bust was unveiled to him in the airport he transformed.

Dr O'Regan's family were in attendance to see Shannon Group Chairman Rose Hynes unveil the statue, watched also by former colleagues, local politicians and business people, while the Bunratty Castle Entertainers gave a special performance at the event in acknowledgement of his immense contribution to Irish tourism.

Ms Hynes said of the man credited with transforming the Mid-West and spearheading a new era of economic development in Ireland, including Duty Free Shopping, which he created 70 years ago this year, was "one of the most fascinating and influential people of our time.

"A Renaissance man, a pioneer of regional development, charismatic and charming - 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," she added.

Shannon Group CEO Matthew Thomas said: "So much of what is vibrant and good in economic and social terms in the Shannon region and beyond today - is a lasting tribute to Dr. Brendan O'Regan, an innovator, entrepreneur and, ultimately, a great man.

“I’ve worked in the aviation industry globally over twenty years now and Dr. O’Regan’s legacy is remarkable in an international context. He was a true altruistic visionary. This, together with the incredible world impacting initiatives he developed, set him apart. We all carry a huge responsibility to his legacy. We owe it to him to continue to reach higher than we think possible and to constantly try to be the best at what we do," he added.

Dr O'Regan was head-hunted in the early 1940’s to take over as Catering Comptroller at Foynes flying boat base. In 1945 he transferred to the new Rineanna Airport (later renamed Shannon Airport) in the same role.

Among the initiatives he spearheaded were developing the world’s first duty free shop at Shannon Airport, developing the Shannon Free Zone and the Shannon College of Hotel Management, transforming Bunratty Castle, creating regional development agency Shannon Development and being a driving force behind the development of Shannon Town itself.

He firmly believed in following your dreams and never giving up on an idea. He once said: “If you’re involved in developing an important idea, you have to let it possess you. If you keep knocking on the door, the door will open. You’ll get there, not particularly with your own abilities, but with others that you gather around you.”