Shannon, County Clare (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Shannon or Shannon Town () is a new town located in County Clare and is one of only two planned towns on the island of Ireland, the other being the Northern Ireland town of Craigavon. It was given town status on 1 January, 1982. The population was 8,561 at the last census (2002). The town is located just off the N19 road, a spur of the N18 road between Limerick and Ennis.
The town is administered at a local level by Shannon Town Council, known prior to 2001 as Shannon Town Commissioners. In addition, prior to September 2004, Shannon Development, a state-sponsored body had charge of many services normally provided by local authorities in the Republic of Ireland. This gave Shannon a unique status in local governance. In September 2004 its situation was regularised when Shannon Development transferred its local government functions to Clare County Council. . The company retains responsibility for the Shannon Free Zone.
The town was built on reclaimed marshland alongside the newly established Shannon Airport, along with the Shannon Free Zone industrial estate. The town itself was intended as a home for the thousands of workers at the airport, surrounding industries and support services. Population growth was never as fast as planned throughout the first few decades of the town's existence. This was partly due to the proximity of 'friendly' places to live, such as Ennis and Limerick City, or even the nearby village of Newmarket-on-Fergus.
The 'planned' nature of this town did not necessarily result in a successful town. Until 2003 the main dual-carriageway to the airport divided the town, as well as cutting it off from the surrounding countryside. Much of the town layout was car-oriented, with straight roads and rigidly laid out housing, rather than people-friendly design. As well as generally lacking in facilities, the town's shopping centre was also of dubious design. Shops fronted onto pedestrian malls that were originally uncovered, allowing estuary winds and rain to strike at shoppers. There is a marked difference too between the early low-cost housing (tower block flats located in Drumgeely near the airport and terraced housing) and high-cost housing (large detached housing) located on the outskirts in Ballycasey towards Limerick City.
The future for the town is brighter than it has been for many years. The recently completed bypass of Newmarket on Fergus also includes a spur to Shannon airport, resulting in a bypass of the town for most traffic to and from Ennis and Limerick. The population grew significantly in the 1990s, and new modern housing developments continue to be built. As a result, facilities in the town are slowly improving; for example, a second major supermarket opened, with the shopping centre being expanded by the addition of the modern "Skycourt" complex. The main road through Shannon was remodelled following the opening of the bypass. New units continue to open in the industrial estates (despite some others closing or changing hands). There is also a lobby for railway services connecting to Shannon, from the existing Ennis-Limerick route. In theory this would benefit the local community as well as the airport.