5 November 1946 : Let there be Light - Rural Electrification comes to the Irish Countryside

Catalpast

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5 November 1946: The start of the Rural Electrification Scheme in the Irish Free State on this day. This major project began in a field Kilsallaghan in north county Dublin. [above] Kilsallaghan was the 1st rural area in Ireland out of 792 to receive electricity under the scheme. The Rural Electrification Scheme employed up to 40 separate units of 50-100 workers, spread across 26,000 square miles. By November 1961 280,000 rural premises were connected, at a cost of over £30,000,000.




The purpose was to roll out the benefits of electricity to every household and farm in the State. The task was entrusted to the Electricity Supply Board (established 1927) and the mammoth task entailed the purchase over one million wooden poles from Finland. Over 75,000 miles of wire were also needed.




‘The electrification of rural Ireland had been envisaged since work first began on the Shannon Scheme in 1925. Dr Thomas McLaughlin, the founding father of ESB, believed that rural electrification represented ‘the application of modern science and engineering to raise the standard of rural living and to get to the root of the social evil of the “flight from the land”.




‘However, the financial resources were not available to extend electricity to rural Ireland in the first days of the newly formed Irish free state and in the 1920s and 1930s. Electricity from the Shannon Scheme was supplied to roughly 240,000 premises in towns and cities only, leaving over 400,000 rural dwellings without power. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, ESB and the government began working on broad plans for rural electrification, and the state agreed to subsidise its roll out. However, the outbreak of World War II in 1939 delayed the process, and work could not start on the scheme until after its end in 1945.’...The last area to receive electricity was the remote area of Blackvalley, Co. Kerry, in 1978.




https://esbarchives.ie/2016/03/23/life-before-and-after-rural-electrification/




The benefits of electricity was of course huge. It was something that just about every home and farmstead in the State wanted with only the very odd one refusing to be connected. Up until then the managing of a household or farm had been a hugely labour intensive operation for both men and women. Everything from cooking to washing to heating was pure manual work.




‘Activity on the farm and in rural households was dictated by the availability of daylight. After dark, limited lighting was provided by oil lamps or candles. Water had to be drawn from a well, and carried home by foot or by cart. Clothes had to be washed by hand, or with a hand-powered ‘wringer washer’. Heating and cooking depended on solid fuel, such as timber and turf, often cut and harvested by the family. Cooking was confined to an open hearth or range. Food safety was difficult to ensure without any form of refrigeration, a particular difficulty on the farm and in the dairy. Industrial development was not feasible without a supply of electricity.’




https://esbarchives.ie/2016/03/23/life-before-and-after-rural-electrification/




Today we live in a world where the lack of electricity in our daily lives is unthinkable. But there are still households today where the oil lamp is not a source of curiosity but a memento of time when they could not make their way about their house after dark without one.
 


Bea C

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5 November 1946: The start of the Rural Electrification Scheme in the Irish Free State on this day. This major project began in a field Kilsallaghan in north county Dublin. [above] Kilsallaghan was the 1st rural area in Ireland out of 792 to receive electricity under the scheme. The Rural Electrification Scheme employed up to 40 separate units of 50-100 workers, spread across 26,000 square miles. By November 1961 280,000 rural premises were connected, at a cost of over £30,000,000.




The purpose was to roll out the benefits of electricity to every household and farm in the State. The task was entrusted to the Electricity Supply Board (established 1927) and the mammoth task entailed the purchase over one million wooden poles from Finland. Over 75,000 miles of wire were also needed.




‘The electrification of rural Ireland had been envisaged since work first began on the Shannon Scheme in 1925. Dr Thomas McLaughlin, the founding father of ESB, believed that rural electrification represented ‘the application of modern science and engineering to raise the standard of rural living and to get to the root of the social evil of the “flight from the land”.




‘However, the financial resources were not available to extend electricity to rural Ireland in the first days of the newly formed Irish free state and in the 1920s and 1930s. Electricity from the Shannon Scheme was supplied to roughly 240,000 premises in towns and cities only, leaving over 400,000 rural dwellings without power. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, ESB and the government began working on broad plans for rural electrification, and the state agreed to subsidise its roll out. However, the outbreak of World War II in 1939 delayed the process, and work could not start on the scheme until after its end in 1945.’...The last area to receive electricity was the remote area of Blackvalley, Co. Kerry, in 1978.




https://esbarchives.ie/2016/03/23/life-before-and-after-rural-electrification/




The benefits of electricity was of course huge. It was something that just about every home and farmstead in the State wanted with only the very odd one refusing to be connected. Up until then the managing of a household or farm had been a hugely labour intensive operation for both men and women. Everything from cooking to washing to heating was pure manual work.




‘Activity on the farm and in rural households was dictated by the availability of daylight. After dark, limited lighting was provided by oil lamps or candles. Water had to be drawn from a well, and carried home by foot or by cart. Clothes had to be washed by hand, or with a hand-powered ‘wringer washer’. Heating and cooking depended on solid fuel, such as timber and turf, often cut and harvested by the family. Cooking was confined to an open hearth or range. Food safety was difficult to ensure without any form of refrigeration, a particular difficulty on the farm and in the dairy. Industrial development was not feasible without a supply of electricity.’




https://esbarchives.ie/2016/03/23/life-before-and-after-rural-electrification/




Today we live in a world where the lack of electricity in our daily lives is unthinkable. But there are still households today where the oil lamp is not a source of curiosity but a memento of time when they could not make their way about their house after dark without one.
Interestingly, my neighbourhood is in 'darkness' today, they're doing some intensive maintenance work, so all is off from nine to five (and when they said nine, they meant nine: the news bulletin was just starting, when ............).
It's a small area, but there are a good dozen fellas at it, at least.
I'm at work right now.
 

runwiththewind

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Whatever else we think of our earliest governments, at least they had ambitions for the country. Electricity, airline, slum clearances. All achieved without the proverbial pot to pee in.

Had we still been under British rule, does anyone seriously think these schemes would have happened?
 

runwiththewind

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With electricity, we humans lost our night vision.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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Nice spot, Catalpast.

I remember electricity coming to my small community, around 1950.

As a result we had not only electric power (no more town gas), but also mains water, sewage (water-supply and sewers need convenient contour-lines or pumps), and in-door toilets. Could telephones be far behind?
 

Feckkit

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I remember cousins down West Cork getting connected up in the 60s.

The banshee's were banished by it!

Prior to that, the 'tilly lamp' was the only source of light for the big kitchen. Tilly lamps had a fabric-gauze filament - without which there'd be no light. This was a precious and delicate feature which had to be handled with due sacredness - well beyond the capability of any city slicker!

I can still smell the paraffin.
 

Catalpast

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I remember cousins down West Cork getting connected up in the 60s.

The banshee's were banished by it!

Prior to that, the 'tilly lamp' was the only source of light for the big kitchen. Tilly lamps had a fabric-gauze filament - without which there'd be no light. This was a precious and delicate feature which had to be handled with due sacredness - well beyond the capability of any city slicker!

I can still smell the paraffin.
Reminds me know that my Dad at one stage in his career used to travel around Ireland extolling farmers

- on the benefits of Pink Paraffin!
 

runwiththewind

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Nice spot, Catalpast.

I remember electricity coming to my small community, around 1950.

As a result we had not only electric power (no more town gas), but also mains water, sewage (water-supply and sewers need convenient contour-lines or pumps), and in-door toilets. Could telephones be far behind?

Indoor toilets, pull a lever and flush safely away the greatest threat ever to human health.

I cannot imagine life without a bathroom. The two most basic human functions, toilet and wash are taken care of on minutes. People must have stank.
 

Hunter-Gatherer

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if all the electricity failed on the 8th of November back then...just a mild inconvenience. If it failed today, utter carnage and maybe the end of our civilisation.

the same with software, petrol, antibiotics and lots of stuff.

Technological progress is like a lobster entering a pot to chase the nice bait. We go forward and reverse is not an option. Until the big day of reckoning.
 

Feckkit

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Reminds me know that my Dad at one stage in his career used to travel around Ireland extolling farmers

- on the benefits of Pink Paraffin!
I have some idea that paraffin was in widespread use all over in those times.

We had a primus stove - craftily housed in an old metal biscuit-tin - mainly used for picnics, but always there as a back up. It needed a shot of meths, well-timed hand-pumping and a working knowledge of the lower vocabulary to get it going!
 
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Interestingly, my neighbourhood is in 'darkness' today, they're doing some intensive maintenance work, so all is off from nine to five (and when they said nine, they meant nine: the news bulletin was just starting, when ............).
It's a small area, but there are a good dozen fellas at it, at least.
I'm at work right now.
Go down and chat to them and see if one of them can light up your life ;)
 

Schuhart

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Dr Thomas McLaughlin, the founding father of ESB, believed that rural electrification represented ‘the application of modern science and engineering to raise the standard of rural living and to get to the root of the social evil of the “flight from the land”.
So did Dev. They were both wrong; the huge investment in rural electrification failed to achieve the result they expected.

Instead, people emigrated or moved to Irish cities where the investment might actually have achieved something.

And people now bang on about rural broadband, as if the failure of rural electrification never happened.
 
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So did Dev. They were both wrong; the huge investment in rural electrification failed to achieve the result they expected.

Instead, people emigrated or moved to Irish cities where the investment might actually have achieved something.

And people now bang on about rural broadband, as if the failure of rural electrification never happened.
False assumption.....

You do not know whether rural Immigration would have been substantially worse without electrification.
In 1950's as many countrys picking them selves up from War and Post War the Emigration opportunity opened up for many people who took it.

People tend to move to where they can get a job.
 

Schuhart

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False assumption.....

You do not know whether rural Immigration would have been substantially worse without electrification.
In 1950's as many countrys picking them selves up from War and Post War the Emigration opportunity opened up for many people who took it.

People tend to move to where they can get a job.
You need to take a step back and think, and avoid knee-jerk pedantic responses.

The equivalent of 80% of people born in the 1930s emigrated in the 1950s. In the 1960s, one TD drew attention to the fact that, fifty years after 1916, most Irish born people were actually living under British rule by choice. So, you'll appreciate, it takes a lot to say that emigration could have been worse. What we don't is whether emigration could have been mitigated if we hadn't thrown all our money at Dev's daft ruralisation agenda.

The jobs were meant to follow the investment. They didn't. The policy was simply a failure.
 
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You need to take a step back and think, and avoid knee-jerk pedantic responses.

The equivalent of 80% of people born in the 1930s emigrated in the 1950s. In the 1960s, one TD drew attention to the fact that, fifty years after 1916, most Irish born people were actually living under British rule by choice. So, you'll appreciate, it takes a lot to say that emigration could have been worse. What we don't is whether emigration could have been mitigated if we hadn't thrown all our money at Dev's daft ruralisation agenda.

The jobs were meant to follow the investment. They didn't. The policy was simply a failure.
So the claim you are making is
Ruralisation was a failure because we spent money ensuring every home could have electricity and improved infrastrucure thoughout Ireland.

So instead we should have done nothing............ great idea.

There were no Industrial or Infrastructure manual or examples to have followed from anywhere, in fact even in the US when Freeways had been constructed to connect the country the claim was they would never be used or the money would never be paid back.

Ruraliation was an attempt at improving the life of the people of the country, installing electricity was one of the avenues and it worked. Doing NOTHING was not an option.

In the US supposedly so well ahead of Ireland it was 1963 when the last town was connected to electricity.
 

diy01

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Whatever else we think of our earliest governments, at least they had ambitions for the country. Electricity, airline, slum clearances. All achieved without the proverbial pot to pee in.

Had we still been under British rule, does anyone seriously think these schemes would have happened?
I believe they would have happened earlier.
 

diy01

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Does anyone know which regions of the country were the last to have electrification? (aside from offshore islands -- I believe some didn't have it until the late 1970s...)
 


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