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By Clodagh Kilcoyne
SHANNON, Ireland (Reuters) 

When Irishman Michael Kelly was a boy, he loved nothing more than gazing at planes taking off and landing at his nearest airport

Now 67, after more than half a century building what he believes is the world’s largest private collection of model aircraft, he has donated the lot to Shannon Airport, where his lifelong passion for aviation began.

 

A British Royal Navy helicopter model is displayed as part of the world's largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon
A British Royal Navy helicopter model is displayed as part of the world’s largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon, Ireland, September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

“I always used to love the noise of the aircraft going over my house in Limerick city and I was very curious,” Kelly said after cutting the ribbon on the airport’s new aviation gallery which now houses his collection in rows of display cases.

“When I made my first holy communion I asked my mum and dad to take me to Shannon airport. So I got to see the beautiful aircraft and from that day on I was hooked.”

 

The world's largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, is unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon
The world’s largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, is unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon, Ireland, September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

While he would have loved the opportunity to have become a pilot, sourcing rare model aircraft still took the Limerick man around the world. None of his 2,300 planes were produced in Ireland.

A friend said Kelly has spent 10,000 euros ($12,000) a year amassing the record haul.

 

 

The collector’s favorite? A Boeing KC Tanker, one of only 10 made around the world.

Living alone in his renovated farmhouse, Kelly said there were exhibitors on the other side of the world “that would do anything” to have the collection. Instead, he donated it closer to home.

“I think it’s testament to the work he’s done over the last 60 years and we are delighted that he has entrusted us to look after it for the next 100-years plus,” said Niall Maloney, operations director at Shannon Airport.

($1 = 0.8499 euros)

 

(Writing by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

 

Michael Kelly poses for a photograph as the world's largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by him, goes on display at Shannon airport in Shannon
Michael Kelly poses for a photograph as the world’s largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by him, goes on display at Shannon airport in Shannon, Ireland, September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

A model of the Queen of England's former private aircraft is seen as part of the world's largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, as it is unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon
A model of the Queen of England’s former private aircraft is seen as part of the world’s largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, as it is unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon, Ireland, September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

A man looks at part of the world's largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, as it is unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon
A man looks at part of the world’s largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, as it is unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon, Ireland, September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

A British Airways plane is displayed as part of the world's largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon
A British Airways plane is displayed as part of the world’s largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon, Ireland, September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

A 1957 Aer Lingus route map is seen on display as part of the world's largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon
A 1957 Aer Lingus route map is seen on display as part of the world’s largest collection of diecast model aircraft, owned by Michael Kelly, unveiled at Shannon airport in Shannon, Ireland, September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

 

 

Keep reading (more images ahead) ….

 

 

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