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Shannon Airport upgrades put Irish treks on the fast track

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Getaways to Ireland have been hot post pandemic. And if you’re looking for a way to get there that might .save you time, headaches and even money, consider making Shannon Airport your hub.

Shannon, located well inland and north of Dublin, has long been a lesser-known alternative. It was the first place to offer duty free shopping and it’s John Travolta’s airport of choice when he’s flying his personal 747.

Location is key: Hop off your plane and you are just a half hour or so driving time from some of the greatest spots along the Wild Atlantic Way.

When the pandemic pretty much shut them down, they took the time to rethink, Shannon Airport CEO Mary Consadine told the Boston Herald.

They’d already been focusing more on customer experience and opened a sensory room at the airport in 2018. During the pandemic, she said, they “took time to really see how we can make things better.”

That came down to better security, a smoother transition from the street to the gate and visa versa, and modernizing.

Shannon now has an updated security system – part of a trial with the TSA and the European Union – that morphs both TSA clearance and customs into one simple process.

Besides the one-stop system, customers also need not remove laptops and liquids from their carry ons.

“We’re taking the stress out of it for people,” Consadine said. Having the pandemic slowdown was a great benefit, she said, because it allowed them to work on the new systems and procedures and work through the glitches before busy times came again.

Cliff Walk, Howth, Ireland/Thinkstock
Cliff Walk, Howth, Ireland/Thinkstock

Customer feedback, Consadine said, has been positive. One person, she noted, clocked their entire arrival to the gate time at just 11 minutes.

“That’s easier on all of us,” she said, “and very much so on our aging population.”

In fact, the World Health Organization named Shannon one of two “Age Friendly” airports in the world this summer.

And while Consadine touts the airport’s many local-sourced restaurants and shops (“It’s a nice place to browse and have an Irish Coffee,” she said),  Consadine realizes the true value is in time saved, making access to the Wild Atlantic Way faster.

The Wild Atlantic Way Is a 1,500 mile coastal road that takes you along the shore of Ireland – through tiny towns, up cliffs, past castles, along beaches; just about every Ireland landscape you can imagine.

You can jump on it at just about any point and choose a stretch to take on, as long or short as you please.

From the airport, you can be on a golf course like those at famed Adare Manor (https://www.adaremanor.com) within 30 minutes.

Adare has long been a popular golf destination. Wait for it be even more popular: they are scheduled to host the Ryder Cup in 2027.

Adare, which came under new ownership in 2017 and closed for four years of upgrades, boasts a Tom Fazio designed course, a famed castle and Michelin star restaurant, for starters.

Just 10 minutes from the airport you can visit Bunratty Castle (bunrattycastle.ie), a kind of living museum where you can attend medieval banquets that they’ve been hosting for 60 years.

You’re close to the Cliffs of Mohr as well. The Doolin Ferry (https://doolinferry.com) about an hour drive from the airport, can take you out on the water to view the cliffs from that perspective.

The close proximity also means that you can often fit in one more Ireland experience on departure day.

You can fly directly to Shannon Airport from Boston and New York on Aer Lingus.

Post-pandemic, getaways to the rolling green hills of Ireland have been on the rise. (File photo)
Post-pandemic, getaways to the rolling green hills of Ireland have been on the rise. (File photo)

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