Water-powered country

2017 marks 90 years since the creation of the Electricity Supply Board in Ireland, a state-owned company created to manage country’s overall supply of the electricity. This was a direct result of a huge undertaking that was the Ardnacrusha Hydroelectric Scheme on river Shannon in county Clare.

Despite the claims that it was the world’s first electrification scheme (3.4.1) – let’s award this title to Soviet political V.I. Lenin’s testament: the GOELRO national electrification plan of 1920 – this was the cutting edge world technology employed in rural Ireland.  The scheme was widely published in the newspapers around the world at the time.

The construction that took only 4 years from start to becoming fully operational in 1929 at the cost of  £5 000 000 (about a quarter of the annual budget of Ireland).

Commemorative plaque at the entrance to the power station.

While the power station today is not as important in the overall production of electricity (only around 2% of the national requirement is generated by Ardnacrusha, as opposed to nearly 100% in 1929), despite its age it’s still a viable and sustainable source of electricity.

Lock tower and the headrace canal leading to the power station. Photographed in 2017.

To mark the anniversary – for July and August in 2017 ESB is offering free guided tours of the power station to all interested in the scheme. It would be a hugely missed opportunity, so the trip to the countryside was necessary.

Francis-type turbine from one of the generators is now serving as a water feature at the entrance to the power station. In front there is memorial wit all the names of people that died during the construction of the scheme. Photographed in 2017.

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