ESB Books: The Shannon Scheme

Book cover_Shannon SchemeAndy Bielenberg (ed.), The Shannon Scheme and the Electrification of the Irish Free State: An Inspirational Milestone (The Lilliput Press, 2002).

ISBN: 1-845351-007-3 (cased)

ISBN: 1-845351-008-1 (paper)

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The Shannon Scheme, a massive hydro-electric project at Ardnacrusha in south-east County Clare, remains the most ambitious engineering project undertaken in the history of the Irish state. Its scale and importance made it an economic centrepiece of the state building programme during the 1920s, and one of the few major success stories of the Cumann na nGaedheal government. Incorporating a wide range of new research, this book brings together an unusual collection of essays providing readers with a clear insight into what the Scheme involved, how it worked and who was responsible for it. The essays are accompanied and enhanced by dramatic black and white photographs taken over the duration of the construction phase (drawn from ESB and Siemens archives), as well as Sean Keating’s celebrated documentary paintings and drawings.

The Shannon Scheme follows the story from Thomas McLaughlin’s original vision in 1922 through to its realization in 1929 and the more recent history of the station. It examines the pivotal role of both the state and the German electrical engineering firm, Siemens of Berlin, who even built a railway system to service the project, which witnessed some of the most gruelling labour conditions in Ireland during the interwar years. This remarkable collaborative enterprise is fittingly commemorated in a work of scholarship and record over seventy years after its origins.