A former landmark building for many people in the town of Shannon is no more after the wrecking ball was taken to demolish the former Garda station located on the industrial estate.
Originally built by Shannon Development, along the old barracks style, the station was actually home to a number of Gardaí who were bunked down in six bedrooms. It was not the first base used by Gardaí here as it replaced a rudimentary hut opened in late 1937 at Rineanna just over one year before the first plane landed at Shannon Airport, an Irish Air Corps Aero Anson A3, the first passenger aircraft followed two months later.
As the new airport grew into a trans-atlantic gateway, welcoming scheduled flights from North America and across Europe, so too the number of Gardaí increased. By 1945 Garda immigration officers transferred from Foynes and took over the ‘hut’ while normal policing operations were managed from Newmarket-on-Fergus. As airport services expanded into the industrial arena with the Shannon Free Zone, more and more people needed a place to live near their new workplace, this prompted the building of blocks of 137 flats and a number of houses on Drumgeely Hill.
Shannon Development expanded the building programme beyond Drumgeely giving birth to Ireland’s first new town which was firmly established by 1972 following the opening of Shannon Town Centre. It was during this period of growth that the Garda station on the industrial estate was opened on 12th July 1963. Ciaran Uí Lionain, a real gentleman, was the first station sergeant and he had five Gardaí serving under him. As none of them were married, it was condition of service that they live in the Garda station.
Shannon Town was policed from this station until 7th June 1991 when the present Garda station was opened in the centre of town. In 2013 retired Garda members joined with their uniformed colleagues to celebrate 50 years of policing in Shannon. During the recession in the 1980s, when Ireland was known as “the sick man of Europe”, hundreds of local people were made to queue up in all weathers to ‘sign-on’ for unemployment benefits at the old Garda Station.