Limerick model citizen sees dream come true at Shannon

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Mary Considine, Mike Kelly, Dominic Taylor and Kieran Beville at the launch of 'Pulling Back the Clouds'.

AIRPORTS can sometimes be a traveller’s nightmare but at Shannon this week, one man’s passion for tiny aeroplanes saw his dream come true.

Mike Kelly, aviation enthusiast and curator of the Shannon Airport Aviation Gallery, finally launched his long-awaited memoir, ‘Pulling Back the Clouds’, at the airport departure lounge.

Mike donated his extensive collection of die-cast model airplanes to Shannon to populate the gallery.

Shannon Airport Group chief executive Mary Considine paid tribute to the Limerick man’s enthusiasm and generosity in sharing his marvellous collection.

“Back in July 2018 we had the pleasure of officially launching Mike’s amazing collection of more than 1,500 die-cast model aircraft at Shannon Airport – the largest public display of its type in the world.

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“Since the launch of our Aviation Gallery, Mike has been here regularly, lovingly tending it and growing the exhibits.  His love of the collection is infectious, and his personal touch really adds to the visitor experience in our airport.

“He is generous with his time in maintaining and curating it. His wonderful storytelling has engaged many a passenger, the famous and VIPs alike.

“Nearly every day passengers tell us how much they have enjoyed the display and for this we are most grateful.”

Mike’s book, which was written by author Kieran Beville and published by the Limerick Writers’ Centre, tells the story of how he first was bitten by the aviation bug, when as a small boy his father took him to view airplanes.

He began collecting die-cast models of the world’s airlines and has spent over a quarter of a million euros on them to date.

The culmination of his life-long obsession was the opening of the Aviation Gallery in 2018.

Pulling Back the Clouds not only tells Mike’s story, it also details a time when aviation was in its infancy in Ireland.

Dominic Taylor, from the Limerick Writers’ Centre said that “readers of Mike’s book are treated to a fascinating insight into the historic importance of the golden age of aviation in Shannon and Ireland.”

In an emotional address to the large crowd of his supporters, Mike thanked the Shannon Airport Group for making his dream come true.