The Shannon Estuary (Irish: Inbhear na Sionainne) is a large estuary where the River Shannon flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The estuary has Limerick at its head and its seaward limits are marked by Loop Head to the north and Kerry Head to the south. The estuary defines the main boundary between County Kerry/County Limerick to the south and County Clare to the north.
In the late 1930s, transatlantic air traffic was dominated by flying boats, and a flying boat terminal was located at Foynes on the south side of the Shannon Estuary. However, it was realised that changing technology would require a permanent runway and airport.
In 1936, the government of Ireland confirmed that it would develop a 3.1 km² site at Rineanna for the country's first transatlantic airport. The land on which the airport was to be built was bog, and on 8 October 1936 work began to drain the land. By 1942 a serviceable airport had been established and was named Shannon Airport. From then, passengers were moved from the flying boats in Foynes to the land planes based in Shannon Airport. By 1945 the existing runways at Shannon were extended to allow transatlantic flights to land, completely bypassing the need for Foynes.
Shannon Foynes Port Company is the port authority for the entire estuary. It owns facilities at Foynes Dock, Limerick City and at airport jetty. It provides marine services, including pilotage and towage to privately owned facilities at Moneypoint, Tarbert Island and Aughinish.
Zoology: Bottle-nosed Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) (Montagu 1821).
An eel trap and transport scheme is in force on the River Shannon as part of a management programme instigated following the discovery of reducing eel numbers on the River Shannon. The scheme ensures safe passage for young eels between Killaloe Bridge and the Shannon estuary.
- "Placenames Database of Ireland - Shannon Estuary". logainm.ie. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
- Berrow, S.D. 2009. Winter distribution of Bottle-nosed Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus (Montaghu)) in the Shannon Estuary. Ir. Nat. J. 30: 35 - 39.
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