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Exhibition to Honour Limerick Freeman

Limerick Post, Tuesday, 14th November 2006

By Lorraine Carey

AN exhibition celebrating the life of Dr. Brendan O’Regan, who was made freeman of Limerick back in 1995, will take place at Clare Museum early next year.

Dr. O’Regan’s long commitment to the Shannon region, including his establishment of the Irish Peace Institute Co-operation North and, more recently, the Newmarket-on-Fergus based initiative, Obair Enterprise, makes him one of Ireland’s most noted peace ambassadors and initiators of commercial and industrial initiatives. His many achievements also includes the setting up of the world’s first Duty Free Shop at Shannon Airport and the now world-renowned Shannon College of Hotel Management.

Building on the idea that any industrial zone surrounding an International Airport needed an available workforce, O’Regan was instrumental in the establishment of Shannon Town.

Announcing the exhibition, John Rattigan, Curator of Clare Museum stated, "Brendan O’Regan’s achievements as an industrial visionary and peacemaker are unrivalled. He opened up the Shannon area to tourism, industrial development and job creation, before establishing the framework for practical co-operation between all peoples on this island. The upcoming exhibition will honour all of his achievements and feature some of the many academic and civil accolades he has been awarded throughout his incredible career”.

O’Regan was born in Sixmilebridge, in 1917. He was greatly influenced by his father James O’Regan, who owned The Falls hotel in Ennistymon, and was also chairman of Clare County Council.

In 1943, the Government appointed O’Regan as catering comptroller at Foynes flying boat base, which was a refuelling point for transatlantic seaplanes between Britain and the United States. He was later transferred to Rineanna Airport (now Shannon International Airport) where he continued as catering comptroller. It was here that O’Regan developed his desire to develop the entire Shannon region as he became increasingly aware of the constant threat of Shannon Airport being over-flown by transatlantic traffic.

In 1984, he established the Irish Peace Institute at the University of Limerick. The aim of the Institute is to promote peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland, and to draw on conflict resolution in order to learn lessons that could inform other conflicts. This philosophy led to his founding of The Centre for International Co-operation at Shannon in 1986. In 1993, meanwhile, O’Regan’s sense of practical patriotism was to the fore when he became a founding member of the Newmarket on Fergus-based Obair - a community development organisation that focuses on enterprise and community development and provides support and services for young people.

During the late fifties, O’Regan also established the Shannon Castle Tours operation, incorporating the renowned mediaeval banquets at Bunratty Castle. It was also during this time that he was appointed Chair of Ireland’s only regional economic development agency, Shannon Development Company.

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