Clare Remembers Brendan O’Regan

Clare People, Tuesday, February 6, 2007

By Emer Connolly

Sixmilebridge native Dr. Brendan O’Regan will be honoured in an exhibition which will be launched at the Clare Museum later this week. An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will officially launch the exhibition, entitled “Empowering the People: The Career and Achievements of Dr. Brendan O’Regan” on Thursday.

Dr. O’Regan is one of Ireland’s most noted peace ambassadors and initiators of commercial and industrial initiatives. He was born in Sixmilebridge in 1917 and has been a hugely influential figure in many circles over the years. His many achievements include the setting up of the world’s first Duty Free Shop at Shannon Airport and the establishment of Co-operation Ireland.

Clare Museum Curator John Rattigan said the exhibition, which will last until May, should prove hugely successful. “The purpose of the exhibition is to try and commemorate Dr. O’Regan’s achievements. A number of artefacts which were awarded to him over the years will be on display”, he said.

He pointed out that although the exhibition has not yet opened, already there has been a huge amount of feedback. “We have got a lot of feedback from Dr. O’Regan’s former employees at Shannon. Everybody seems to have their own story. It is going to be much bigger than I had anticipated. There is a hype around it at this stage”, he said. “People in Shannon Development feel they owe a lot to him. We have even had enquiries from Britain. Dr. O’Regan is highly respected as a visionary and as a professional”, he said. “The Shannon model he created has been seen as a model for all over the world”, he said.

Among the artefacts due to be put on display include a CBE, awarded by Queen Elizabeth, for his peace work with Co-operation Ireland; a citation marking Dr. O’Regan’s freedom of Limerick in the mid-1990s; an award he received from the sales and catering section of Shannon Airport in 1973, a presentation he received from the Irish Hotels Federation and the British Airways Endeavour Award he was presented with in 1980.

Mr. Rattigan said Dr. O’Regan has had a huge effect on his native place. “He is a great community man and played a huge role in setting up Obair, Newmarket-on-Fergus. His work created huge economic benefit to the Shannon region. It was a great act of patriotism and provided employment for others. We hope to tour around the county with this exhibition, to various libraries”, said Mr Rattigan.

An electronic version of the exhibition will also be placed on the Clare Museum web site, permanently.

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