Statue to remember father of duty-free unveiled in Sixmilebridge

Andrew O'Regan, Geraldine Guilfoyle, Margaret O'Regan, Carmel O'Regan, and Declan O'Regan at the unveiling of the Bronze Sculpture of Dr Brendan O'Regan. Photo: Eamon Ward.

A LIFE-SIZE statue of the father of duty free shopping has been unveiled in his native Sixmilebridge.

Brendan O’Regan created the world’s first Free Zone in Shannon, which has become a $90 billion worldwide industry.

The statue, made by bronze sculptor, Seamus Connolly, stands in the Square in Sixmilebridge, across the road from the house where Brendan O’Regan was born in 1917.

The unveiling took place in front of an audience comprising members of the O’Regan family, project sponsors, Ei Electronics, Clare County Council, Eoin Gavin Transport, Nandi O’Sullivan, of the Shannon Airport Group, Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Shannon branch, and Shannon College of Hotel Management, University of Galway. Members of the business and local communities also attended.

As well as pioneering the duty free idea, Brendan also spearheaded the creation of Shannon Town, as well as Shannon College of Hotel Management.

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Unveiling the statue Shannon Chamber president Eoin Gavin said: “Brendan O’Regan’s realm of influence spreads far and wide. His vision and creative endeavour transformed Shannon into the industrial powerhouse for the raising of living standards in Ireland’s Mid-West, which continues today. He was a man with a big vision and unbounding energy.”

“Shannon Chamber wants his legacy to be remembered and built on. Our vision is that the pioneering and innovative spirit of Shannon and the region, started in the 1960’s by Brendan O’Regan will continue. That’s why we joined forces with the Sixmilebridge Historical Society to commission this statue.”

“We want the story to continue. We want the next generation to understand and pay homage to the past and build a new future for this village, Shannon, and the region, just as Brendan’s successors have done and continue to do.”

Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Councillor Joe Cooney, said: “Brendan O’Regan’s contributions to economic, social and cultural development helped to shape modern Ireland.”

“His initiatives include the world’s first duty-free airport shop at Shannon Airport, Ireland’s first industrial estate, Ireland’s first hotel school, the first New Town, and three separate peace organisations. He had an enormous impact – locally, nationally, and internationally.”

“I am delighted to see the unveiling of this statue in Sixmilebridge. I hope it will stand as an enduring reminder of the remarkable achievements of Brendan O’Regan and the contribution that he made to life in this area and beyond,” Cllr Cooney concluded.