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Shannon, in County Clare, is Ireland's only planned town and was established and became a town in 1982.

Originally, the Vikings established a trading camp in the area of the current Shannon town. In 1250, a Norman by the name of Robert De Muscegros built the first fortress in 1250. It was simply an earthen mound with a fortified wooden tower atop the mount. Later, De Muscegros granted his land to Thomas De Clare, who built a stone castle on the land. In 1318, Richard De Clare, son of Thomas, was killed during a battle between the Normans and the Irish. Bunratty Castle was entirely destroyed during that battle.

The castle was rebuilt for the King of England, but was again destroyed by the Irish Chieftains of Thormond in 1332 under the MacNameras and the O'Briens. It remained in ruins for 21 years when Sir Thomas Rokeby rebuilt it. Shortly thereafter, it was attacked once again by the Irish. The castle has remained in the hands of the Irish ever since. In about 1425, the MacNamara family built the present castle on the land, and by 1475, it had been transferred to the largest clan in North Munster, the O'Briens. They ruled over the area and lived the life of luxury.

During the reign of Henry VII, the family agreed proclaim their loyalty to the King, and in return, they would be given the title "Earls of Thomond." Their reign came to an end when Cromwell's troops arrived and the castle was surrendered. They never returned to Bunratty, though later, they built a new residence for themselves at Dromoland Castle, which today is a luxury hotel. Bunratty Castle and its grounds were given to several Plantation families. The last residents of Bunratty left in 1804, after which it fell into disrepair.

In 1954, Viscount Lord Gort bought the castle and restored it to its former state, and in 1962, it was decreed a national monument, and it was opened to the public. It has been furnished with 15th and 16th century furniture, artwork, and tapestries. It remains the most authentically restored and furnished medieval castle in Ireland.

The current community of Shannon was built in the 1960s on reclaimed marshland near the Shannon Free Zone industrial estate. It was built to accommodate the thousands of workers at Shannon Airport and the surrounding industries along with their support services. Shannon town began on Dumgeely Hill with 137 flats and ten houses. It has grown substantially since then.

St. John's Church of Ireland School was the first school in Shannon, opening in 1962., and shortly afterwards, Christ Church Shannon, which served reformed faiths, opened. St. Senan's School in 1966. The first Catholic Church in Shannon, Mary Immaculate Church, was constructed on Christmas Eve of 1967. It became the parish of Shanon.

Shannon Free Zone is the largest industrial cluster in all of Ireland. Major companies there include Lufthansa Technik, RSA Security, GE Capital, Intel, and Digital River. More than 110 overseas companies have done business in Shannon Free Zone since its establishment.



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