Public Relations

From early beginnings ESB realised that the education of the public as to the progress and possibilities of the Shannon Scheme were essential to its success. Following a visit to the United States where Thomas McLaughlin investigated the publicity systems of many utility companies, he recommended that a Public Relations Department should be established. On 1st July 1928, ESB made history by appointing a Dublin Journalist, Ned Lawlor  Public Relations Officer , the first appointment of its kind in Ireland. The department was charged with the duty of looking after all publicity matters and its operations were widespread.

In April 1928, an agreement was entered into with the First National Pathé Film Company to film the Scheme.  The film was taken during the summer months, and during the following autumn and winter, it was exhibited by Pathé Film Company in the Pathé Gazette and pictorial in sixty of the principal theatres in Dublin and nationwide. Portion of the film was also included in the British and American editions of Pathé.

Lawlor initiated a national media campaign, first begun on the 1st September 1928 in the daily and weekly newspapers and the public relations campaign continued for years. The publicity campaign was a great success and received great interest from the UK and USA markets, not only from the media but from those involved in civil works internationally.

Anticipating the desire of a large number of people to visit the Scheme during its construction, ESB established a guide bureau at Limerick to facilitate national and international visitors. An office was opened in Strand Barracks, Limerick and at Ardnacrusha. An agreement was made with the Irish Omnibus Company to run a bus service and arrangements were made with the Great Southern Railways for the issue of special three-day return tickets at single fairs to Limerick from all stations.

Within the first ten months of the opening of the Scheme, it is estimated that 250,000 people visited the site.

Franklin D Roosevelt, then Governor of New York, wrote in specifically to ESB to enquire about aspects of the design and management of the Scheme. It is believed that when he became President of the United States of America, the Tennessee Valley Development Authority, also a Hydro Electric Development, utilised some of the learnings from the Shannon Scheme.

In October 1928, a lecturing tour was arranged, beginning with towns in Leinster.  Topics included the proper systems of both lighting in the home and in the shop. In addition, many lectures of an informal kind organised under local umbrellas were given throughout the country based on material supplied by Public Relations.


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