Electricity supply in Ireland: The history of ESB
Maurice Manning and Moore McDowell, Electricity Supply in Ireland: The History of the ESB (Gill & MacMillan, 1984).
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This book was commissioned by ESB as an independent study tracing the development and functioning of one of Ireland’s most important economic and commercial institutions. It documents the growth of ESB since its foundation in 1927 to 1984.
The authors, one a political scientist, the other an economist, had free access to ESB files and papers in various government departments for this purpose. The result is a detailed insight into the relationship between ESB as a public sector enterprise, and the government of Ireland.
The book reveals how political and economic constraints imposed on ESB have shaped its development, and it illustrates the role of the ESB in modernising Irish society and commercial life.
The book recalls the scheme for harnessing the Shannon river which preceded the formal establishment of ESB. The Board’s early progress and difficulties are chartered, and the impact of electrification on life in rural Ireland before and after World War II is highlighted. The role played by electricity supply in the expansion of the Irish economy between 1960 and 1973 is explained, as is the force of the recession of the late 1970’s.
It also discusses the continuing controversy of whether turf should be used to generate electricity as well as the topical issue of nuclear energy.
This is a great resource. Thanks for making these books available for download for free. I was particularly interested in Manning and McDowell’s history. By coincidence, I was speaking to another ex-ESB colleague a few days ago about the major crisis in the Board’s accounting system in the early 1930s. He told me that the company recruited a German, Herr Friedrich Weckler who had worked on the Shannon Scheme to overhaul the system. He did so practically singlehandedly and in the process resolved the crisis and turned the company’s fortunes around. This is acknowledged in the book. The accounting structure that he put in place remained the ESB standard up until recent times when everything changed due to the opening of the market and the advent of competition. What with the Shannon Scheme built by Siemens and Herr Weckler’s huge contribution on the accounting side, there is a significant German strain in the ESB’s DNA!