This year is a major milestone in the history of Shannon Airport with the approach of the 70th anniversary at the birthplace of the world’s first airport duty free shop.

On 18th March 1947 Dáil Éireann passed the Customs Free Airport Act, to exempt transit and embarking passengers, goods and aircraft, from normal customs procedures. This historic legislation established Shannon as an international industrial and distribution centre and stimulated further traffic growth. Two months later Ms Kitty Downes was employed to sell souvenirs, Irish linen products and other locally produced items for the convenience of transatlantic passengers from a small kiosk in the terminal building.

Today Shannon Duty Free is part of a multi-billion euro industry spanning the globe and an integral part of international travel. Not alone was Shannon the first ever airport duty free shop, it has since shared knowledge and expertise with other duty free operators to develop duty free facilities at international airports Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East and Asia. Along this incredible journey Shannon Duty Free staff played a significant role, working on the setting up and delivery of retail and support services in many of the new duty free joint venture companies overseas.

The success of Shannon Duty Free can be attributed to the foresight, and hard work of Brendan O’Regan, this year is also the centenary anniversary of his birth. It was O’Regan and his founding team alongside the commitment, dedication and professionalism of the wonderful staff, who welcomed and dutifully served duty free customers from the early pioneer days right through to the present time.

These people have been the face of Shannon Duty Free, as well as charming ambassadors for airport shopping at Shannon. It is a tribute to their combined energies and loyalty that Shannon Duty Free is on now the cusp of celebrating seventy years of airport shopping. Seventy years on, Shannon Duty Free shop staff, both former and present are planning to come together for a celebration of the platinum anniversary, with a first ever staff reunion being held on Wednesday, 29th March from 4pm to the Radisson Blu Hotel, Limerick.

Any former staff are welcome to contact 089 973 6753 or email for more information.