THE 38-year career of Jim O’Sullivan at Shannon Town Centre is being recognised with a function at Shannon Knights on this Thursday evening.
Jim retired as maintenance manager and saw the centre through huge changes, from the day the late Fianna Fáil Deputy, Brian Lenihan senior, opened it, to the start of the current recession.
Jim reflected on his career on Wednesday. “I was there from 1972 to 2010. I worked with Sisk who owned the Town Centre, and I was with them for about six months before they asked me would I join the maintenance at the Town Centre. Construction at the time was dicey enough.”
A native of Cork, Jim spent some time in London before he began work in the new town of Shannon. He was actually involved in building the Town Centre, which he says was the first one of its type in Ireland.
“It was a copy of a centre in Milton Keynes in England. The next one after that was built in Dublin.”
It was quite difficult for businesses at the Town Centre in the early years. “It was a bit slow going when it was open plan but people were making a living there, it was tough but they were making a living. There were the banks, Quinns, the Knights, Sean Hillery, a few of those were very solid and some of them are still there. Shannon Development moved in around ’74 or ’75 and they brought in a lot of people around the place.
“They roofed it around the early ’80s and it was very good, it brought more shelter and made it more comfortable. Business had stabilised, people were staying around and staying in their businesses, it had been more hit and miss before that.”
There have also been significant changes in the years to come.
“It changed hands in the ’90s when the owners sold. A Dublin crew moved in and they wanted to move with the times. They did it up, but the downturn came afterwards. It’s still tipping along and there are a lot of traders who have hung on, but a lot of people have come and gone. It’s very rocky for business now.”
He says there was always plenty of work to do and there was quite a lot of variety.
“We had an awful variation of work and we would have known where all the services were and everything. We’d have done any bit of work needed and we’d have given the security a hand sometimes. There was more than enough to do, we were always kept on the go.”
Jim, who now lives in Drumline, had some bad health in recent years, but said he is “back in harness now” and he was looking forward to Thursday night’s event.