Irish Air Corps General Officer Commanding and Director of Military Aviation, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor. Photograph: Joe Buckley
A WING DEDICATED to the Irish Air Corps has been officially unveiled at the Shannon Aviation Museum.
Aircraft now permanently housed in Shannon as part of the exhibition include Air Corps Fouga Magister F216 which was formerly on display at Collins Barracks and a Reims Rocket Cessna 172, which has the distinction of being the longest active aircraft in the fleet with 47 years’ service.
Installing the permanent exhibition coincides with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Irish Air Corps.
Chairperson of the Shannon Aviation Museum, Jane Magill said she was “thrilled” with the large attendance for Tuesday’s unveiling. Their efforts in securing the aircraft for the wing were dedicated to the late Eddie Ryan, he along with Jane spearheaded the opening of the museum in 2008. “Like any collection, it will grow,” she announced while acknowledging the support of Clare County Council, Mick Guinee of Ei Electronics, Paddy Purcell, Clare Local Development Company, the county’s Oireachtas members and county councillors.
Marking the 83rd anniversary of the first Irish Air Corps deployment to Shannon Airport on 30th August 1939, CEO of Shannon Airport Group, Mary Considine also addressed what she described a “historic opening”. She stated, “The Shannon Aviation Museum is a really unique experience, it is fantastic to have it on our doorstep and beside Shannon Airport. We’ve had a very successful restoration of services at Shannon Airport since the pandemic. By coming here, our visitors can understand the rich history of aviation in the area, we will do our part to promote the museum”.
Irish Air Corps General Officer Commanding and Director of Military Aviation, Brigadier General Rory O’Connor received a presentation from Magill to mark his fortieth anniversary of joining the Air Corps. He commended the “passion” shown by Jane and Eddie for the facility. “When we talk about Shannon, almost everyone relates it to aviation, it has a special place in Ireland, they all recognise Shannon and its place in the world”. The history of the Air Corps will not be forgotten thanks to the Museum, he noted.
Minister of State with responsibility for Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan (FG) stressed the importance of celebrating such events, the effort in moving the aircraft by the Department of Defence and the proximity to Shannon Airport. He believed “the story of the Irish Air Corps” would draw people to Shannon.
His fellow Limerick man, Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins (FF) said it was “a significant day for Shannon and the Mid-West”. He flagged out the Mid-West and Shannon Estuary was “steeped in a lot of traditions” including aviation while affirming the belief that the Estuary’s future had to be built around aviation.
Clare’s first citizen, Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) stated, “I can’t let the opportunity pass without passing comment on the site of the museum, it is only a few kilometres from Shannon Airport which has the potential to be the greatest economic driver for the region”.
Eddie Ryan’s foresight was clear to see, Clare TD, Joe Carey (FG) maintained. He believed the museum could become “a magnet” and that the amount of school tours visiting the facility would rise.
“It is futile coming here and clapping, we need to spread the word and get people to flock here. The whole world knows about the Cliffs and Bunratty, there’s a small blip that we should be telling everyone about,” Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) remarked. He said that his days flying planes in Coonagh were “some of the best days of my life” and expressed his hope that the Air Corps would consider having a capacity at Shannon Airport. “We live and die in this region on the success of this Airport”.