Visionary Brendan O’Regan to be put on Leaving Cert curriculum

Councillor Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach, Clare County Council, Tim Crowe, chair, Sixmilebridge Historical Society; Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber; and Dr Phillip Smyth, former Head of School, Shannon College of Hotel Management. Photo: Eamon Ward.

SOCIAL entrepreneur and father of duty-free and the Shannon Free Zone, Dr Brendan O’Regan, is set to be included in the history curriculum for school children.

The news was announced at an event held in Shannon recently to celebrated the life and legacy of Dr O’Regan.

Organised by the Sixmilebridge Historical Society in collaboration with Shannon Chamber, the History Ireland Hedge School drew an audience of current and past leaders from the world of business, hospitality, aviation, education, and tourism, members of the O’Regan family, and sculptor Seamus Connolly, whose life-sized statue of Brendan O’Regan stands in Sixmilebridge.

Panellists at the Hedge School, which was held in the Shannon College of Hotel Management, included former diplomat Sean Donlon; Andrew O’ Regan, son of Dr Brendan O’Regan; Brian O’Connell, co-author of Brendan O’ Regan – Irish Innovator, Visionary and Peacemaker; and Una Bromell, historian and tutor at Mary Immaculate College.

Speaking at the event, Sixmilebridge Historical Society chairman Tim Crowe said that Brendan O’Regan has been forgotten in Irish history said that the society is anxious to rectify the “unforgettable omission”.

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“We are working with the Department of Education to have Brendan O’Regan, as a personality, included in Leaving Certificate history,” he said.

Discussion at the event was held on issues as diverse as the seeds of entrepreneurship in the O’Regan family, the history of Irish coffee, the establishment of Shannon Free Zone, the growth of manufacturing in Ireland, and the creation of the first duty-free shop in Shannon – which was instrumental in the development of today’s €80billion worldwide duty-free industry, providing millions of jobs which can all be traced back to Mr O’Regan.

The Hedge School was run as a recorded live event and will be published in podcast form on in the coming weeks.

Speaking ahead of the event, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Councillor Joe Cooney, said that “goodness and fulfilment in life is not only to leave a legacy that stands the test of time but to have one that grows with time”.

“Brendan O’Regan’s legacy is doing just that. He was a visionary. The life he lived could only be lived through sacrifice and he was willing to make that sacrifice for the greater good of the people of the Mid West.”