Shannon’s Historic Photos go on display

Shannon’s Historic Photos go on display

The proud story of Ireland’s most historic airport has been evoked in a special photographic exhibition capturing some of the golden moments and world famous faces that visited Shannon Airport.

Princess Grace (1929-1982)
The ever stylish and striking lady and film star of the ‘50s Silver Screen, Grace Kelly visited Ireland three times and arrived into Shannon for her earliest visit before embarking on the long drive to Mayo to the ancestral farm of her grandfather John Peter Kelly in Drimurla, Co Mayo. Princess Grace as she then became following her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco, bought the 35 acre homestead in 1979 for £7,800, but her dream to build a holiday home there never materialised before her death in 1982. The Irish links to the American born star are as strong as ever as her son Prince Albert of Monaco is still a regular visitor to Ireland.

Closing the curtain on a year of celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the first commercial transatlantic flight into Shannon, or any land-based Irish airport, some 64 images drawn from the 1950s to the current decade have been assembled from archives and placed in a permanent exhibition on the walls of the airport’s transit lounge.

Richard Burton (1925-1984)
The Welsh film star and stage actor, Richard Burton is pictured here arriving in Shannon Airport with his wife Suzy Miller during the actor’s third effort at marriage after twice wedding Elizabeth Taylor in the 60s. A close friend of the late and great Richard Harris, there are fond memories of the pair, together with Peter O’Toole (all three are included in this exhibition) during the ‘60s holding up a bar counter at 3am singing songs while renowned Irish musician and song-writer Pecker Dunne played the banjo to a saxophone accompaniment.

The exhibition, reflects the international standing of Shannon as a global aviation crossroads as it includes some of the world’s best known personalities of politics, stage, screen and sport.  Famous faces/events captured in the exhibition include every US president from presidents John F Kennedy to Barack Obama; other global political and religious leaders such as Nelson Mandela, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Cuban President Fidel Castrol, Pope  John Paul II and the Dali Lama.

Richard Harris

The exhibition includes movie stars such as Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Peter O’Toole.  It also reaches into sport, with Mohammed Ali’s visit here also included, as is Irish boxer Andy Lee’s homecoming last year, the 2006 homecoming of Munster following their Heineken Cup victory and the single biggest crowd event of all at the airport – the homecoming of Clare’s 1995 All-Ireland winning team.  Rock stars also feature, with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen included.  The exhibition also illustrates Shannon’s continued international status, with many of the photos drawn from the current era, including the visits this year of Prince Charles and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, both of whom flew into Shannon this year.

Muhammad Ali (1942- )
No introduction required; boxer, social activist, philanthropist and, actually, great grandson of Ennis, Co. Clare man Abe Grady, Muhammad Ali was and will always remain in sporting fans’ eyes ‘the greatest’. Ali transcended sport and in 2009 travelled to his great grandfather’s birthplace in Ennis and was made the first honorary freeman of the town.

Said Shannon Group Chairman Rose Hynes,  “This is a special moment for us as these photos remind us of the legacy that has been passed onto us at Shannon.  You can only imagine in the ‘40s, ’50s and ‘60s in the West of Ireland the excitement that would have abounded here with Hollywood stars arriving on such a regular basis.  We still have this happening today so the magic continues.  Shannon is at the heart of this region and this is one of the reasons why there’s great fondness for it.

“There are probably only a very small percentage of airports outside the US that have had every American President since John F Kennedy through its doors.  Boston Mayor Marty Walsh on arrival here at Shannon last year summed it up when he said ‘Shannon is a place where the relationship between Ireland and American has taken flight…..Today we stand at the same transatlantic gateway that brought my parents to America and brought American presidents to Ireland.’  That says a lot about this airport.”

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Michael Flood is the Editor of Ireland's leading travel industry publication, Irish Travel Trade News. With more than 35 years experience, he has accumulated an in-depth knowledge of the airline industry and the travel and tourism world.

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