1952 – Shannon Airport, Rineanna, Co. Clare

Architect: Buckley & O’Gorman



Shannon was selected in the mid 1930’s as a site for a transatlantic airport. A group that included the pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh, visited the site in the late 1930’s and endorsed its selection. In July 1939, a SABENA Savoia-Marchetti S.73 from Brussels via Croydon Airport was the first commercial flight to use the Rineanna airfield. The surfaced runway at Shannon was completed in 1940 and flights commenced in 1942. BOAC began scheduled service to Bristol on 21 February 1942 to provide a land plane connection between England and the flying boat terminal at Foynes. The first scheduled transatlantic flight through Shannon was in October 1945, after which the volume of transatlantic flights grew rapidly. Shannon became the world’s first duty-free airport in 1947The airport’s early success was due largely to the fact that aircraft had limited range and had to refuel at the earliest opportunity after the Atlantic crossing. Shannon has the longest runway in Ireland, which allowed it to be a designated alternative landing site for the Space Shuttle.

The original airport terminal was a relatively modest set of buildings with a tall and distinctive control tower. The terminal building, control tower and fire station was one of the last commissions of Buckley & O’Gorman. With the increase in passengers and the introduction of the Boeing 747, it was decided that a new enlarged terminal was needed, and was constructed closeby. The first commercial operation of a 747 took place in April 1971, with the new terminal officially opening in May that year. The tower and some of the original terminal still exist.