Rural electrification of Avoca, Co Wicklow in 1951

Area: Avoca
Started: August 1950
Finished: April 1951
Poles used: 874
Line used (km): 75
Premises connected: 77


The figures above were sourced from our REO News magazine. Click here to find out more on what the figures mean. The map above shows the area boundary and is from a digitised version of the original map used during the scheme.

Area survey

An initial survey was conducted in the Avoca rural area in Co Wicklow in 1950, which covered 19.5 sq miles. The estimated cost of implementing the scheme was recorded as £23,344.

From a total of 506 houses, there were: 363 acceptances of the scheme; 116 refusals; 3 ‘doubtfuls’; and 6 recorded as vacant.

Work began in August 1950 and was officially completed on 25 August 1951. The scheme went over budget by £1,165.19 due to increases in the cost of labour, as the above memorandum shows.

Key crew members

J.F. Heslin and D.F. MacKenzie Rural Area Engineers
J.J. Ryan Area Clerk
S. Malone Engineer

St. Patrick’s Copper Mines

ESB agreed to supply electricity to St. Patrick’s Copper Mines Ltd. on 8 March 1956. At the time, ESB considered mining to be a risky enterprise. It was therefore necessary for the mines to make financial contributions towards the extension of the supply from Arklow and Carrickmines. The electricity supply was completed in September 1957.

Switching on Avoca

The highlight of rural electrification in each area was the switching on ceremony, attended by the local community. The Irish Independent reported on 2 April 1951:


Area map


Area notes

On completion of the area in March 1952, a report on Avoca was submitted to the Rural Electrification Office (REO):

Mr. Heslin came under the spell of the natural beauty of Avoca and recommends it as a rest cure for R.E.O. staff, particularly for the Materials Division who so frequently come under fire from the Area Staffs.


Benefits for Avoca

The immediate impact of electricity was apparent in Avoca, bringing with it an improved quality of life and a reduction in emigration, as well as increased efficiency for local farming, tourism and mining industries.