Passenger numbers may be rising significantly at Shannon Airport this summer season but even in the rush these days, some still stand out more than others – particularly if they are world famous celebrities.
Among others, in June the airport had Irish-American royalty in Jean Kennedy Smith, last month it was Bruce Springsteen, since then it has hosted none other than Justin Timberlake and his movie star wife Jessica Biel.
But last weekend it was the turn of Oscar Award winner Tom Hanks and his family to arrive at Shannon as they transited the airport for a fuel-stop en route from Greece to the US.
The star of blockbusters such as Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan and The Green Mile arrived in Shannon on Sunday, just in time to catch some of the All-Ireland hurling semi-final curtain raiser tie between Limerick and Galway minors.
And the mega star and his family appeared as captivated as everyone else by the action.
“They were only here for a brief stop but they were enjoying watching the minor match on TV so much that they delayed their departure to take in the end of the game,” explained Duty Manager Carmel Donnellan.
“Tom and his sons were in the bar having a drink and he was explaining hurling to them and said ‘this is the game I have been telling you about’.
“His sons seemed to be enjoying the game also and then his daughter came over before they were joined by his wife.”
Carmel said that the movie star could not have been nicer to people looking for a photo or autograph with him.
“He is such a nice man and happily posed for photos with staff and passengers. He could have gone to the VIP room but he just stayed there in the Sheridan bar with his family, watching the match the same as everyone else.
“He must have a grá for Galway as well as he wanted them to win the minor. There was plenty of Limerick staff around but we weren’t going to challenge him on that,” she joked.
“Mr Hanks has been through here before. In fact, the last time he flew into Shannon he was with Bruce Springsteen. You can imagine the heads that they turned.
“He really is as modest and nice as he comes across on screen.”