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Shannon – Ireland’s “Other” Airport

April 16, 2009

Daybreak at Shannon – St. Colmcille Aer Lingus, originally uploaded by wybnormal.

corey says… Many travelers have never heard of Ireland’s Shannon Airport. But loads of repeat visitors insist on the virtues of this west coast terminal. I must confess, Shannon has won me over.

Compared to Dublin (DUB), everything at Shannon (SNN) is a bit calmer, quieter and more manageable. In fact, if you stand in the center of the terminal, you can see the arrivals hall, car rental desks, bank, tourist office, bathrooms, convenience store and even catch a glimpse of the check-in desks. You can’t say that for most international airports.

Shannon’s second level is just as amenable…cafe, gift shop, bathrooms and departures line. As my friend Wakako would say, “Easy-peasy.”

A Gateway to the West

But there are other advantages to using Shannon…it’s the gateway to Ireland’s scenic west coast…the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Galway, Killarney, the beloved Shannon River Region, even Cork city. It simply makes sense to fly via Shannon for these destinations rather than trekking across the country from Dublin.

Your Flight Might Already Have a Scheduled Stop in Shannon

Many flights from the US land their planes in BOTH Dublin and Shannon, so travelers can choose…most people simply assume Dublin is their only option.

Much Easier Driving

To me, the biggest advantage comes from the roads around Shannon. When I get off the plane, hopping in a rental car, engaging my left-side driving skills AND facing heavy traffic and construction are generally the last things I feel like carrying out. At Shannon, there’s only one main road out of the airport, so the first 2 miles are perfect for getting acclimated to the road.

Although Dublin Airport is outside the city, it can’t compete with Shannon on the accessibility front. My last experience driving out of Dublin airport really made me want to make it my last if possible. After 45 minutes following misguided detour signs that started immediately outside the car rental gates, I still had to stop twice for directions…and that was just to get to the main highway. Not exactly how I wanted to start my holiday.

Flying Open-Jaw

If your itinerary to includes Dublin’s fine attractions, consider flying “open-jaw.” That means you fly into one airport and out of another. This means your route around Ireland won’t require backtracking to the same airport.

Step By Step at Shannon

Two years ago, we recorded a basic introduction to Shannon Airport. The information is still relevant, and you can have a listen below (we’ve come a long way since this one was recorded).


Shannon and Dublin are Ireland’s international hubs…especially for North American travelers, but airports in Belfast, Cork, Kerry, Derry, Donegal, Knock, Sligo and Waterford are also options to consider…especially in this age of discount Eupean airfare.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Thomas G. Byrne permalink
    April 21, 2009 7:30 AM

    …and as Pat Preston, the Ireland Expert, notes on her web site’s HOT NEWS page (, a customs clearance facility will debut in summer 2009 at Shannon. This will be a wonderful extension of its existing immigration clearance facility. (Dublin will do the same in 2010.)

  2. April 21, 2009 7:41 AM

    Thomas – Agreed, I’m looking forward to that feature. I’d much rather wait in line before my flight than when I’m in my home airport.

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