Shannon Airport joins Dublin and Cork as one of the three principle airports in Ireland. It’s the third-busiest of the trio, and it operates significant transatlantic service while serving as a gateway into Ireland’s south-west region, particularly for those bound for Limerick, Galway and Ennis.
Shannon Airport opened in the 1940s as the first transatlantic hub in Ireland. At that time, it was an important refuelling stop for flights from North America. Today, Shannon serves around 1.75 million passengers per year through a terminal that opened in 2000. This modern facility features 40 check-in desks, 14 departure gates and 5 luggage carousels.
The US began offering pre-clearance services in the 1980s. The service was expanded to include agricultural and customs inspections in 2008, at which point Shannon became the first airport in the world to offer such a comprehensive service.
The terminal is outfitted with a range of modern facilities, including free wireless Internet access, shopping facilities provided by The Loop and a range of bars and restaurants.
The actual city of Shannon is not a tourist destination, as it was purpose-built to serve the airport and its employees. Most visitors who fly into Shannon travel on to Limerick, Galway or Ennis and will spend at least an hour on the road in the process.
With this in mind, transportation is an important consideration for those flying into the terminal. Cheap car hire in Shannon Airport is particularly practical, as significant travel almost always follows incoming flights. Desks for Europcar and other car hire firms are located in the Arrivals Hall.