Electric Generations – now open

We are delighted to support an exciting new exhibition, in collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire, which explores how Irish people reacted to a mysterious new power entering their homes: electricity.

Electric Generations, now open at dlr LexIcon in Dún Laoghaire, shows how electricity – an invisible force that few understood – caused fear at first. Visitors can learn how electricity then came to be embraced as part of everyday life, and was seen as a tool for freeing women from domestic drudgery.

According to the exhibition team, ‘From fear of the supernatural in the 1920s to electric toothbrushes in the 1980s, Electric Generations tells the fascinating story of how Irish attitudes towards electricity were transformed over the course of the twentieth century. This isn’t an exhibition just about electricity – it’s a wonderful insight into people’s beliefs, emotions and desires’.

The exhibition, which is free to visit, features previously unseen printed material from ESB Archives and the Institution of Engineering and Technology archives. An array of domestic electrical objects from the 1920s through to the 1980s is also on display. A re-created all-electric kitchen is at the heart of the exhibition.

A selection of electrical appliances on display. Photo by Peter Cavanagh.

Upcoming events

Join the organisers for illustrated talks about the fear, functionality and freedom of electricity on the evening of 16 October, and for a screening of 40 Light Years from Parteen (1967) and Death of the Banshee (1996) on 15 November as part of National Science Week. Both events are free and will be held in The Studio at dlr LexIcon.

Exhibition curators Deirdre McParland, Senior Archivist, ESB, Dr Ciara Meehan, Electric Generations, Prof Owen Davies, University of Hertfordshire, and Ceri Houlbrook, University of Hertfordshire, pictured with Councillor Tom Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Dr Finola Kennedy, author of ‘Cottage to Creche: family change in Ireland’, and Gerard Crowley, Senior manager, ESB.
Photo by Peter Cavanagh.

Gerard Crowley, Senior manager, ESB, Councillor Tom Murphy, Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Dr. Finola Kennedy, with reproduction of 1928 print advertisement for Ardnacrusha Power Station from ESB Archives. Photo by Peter Cavanagh.

The exhibition runs until 2 December 2017, and will later be displayed at the Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester, 8 March – 31 May 2018. For more information visit the Electric Generations website here.

About dlr LexIcon

The dlr LexIcon, the new Central Library and Cultural Centre, opened in 2015. With 80,000 items in the adult and junior libraries, 60+ computers, 100 study spaces and a floor dedicated to Local Studies, there is plenty to discover at dlr LexIcon.

Opening Hours:

  • Mon–Thurs: 9:30am – 8pm
  • Fri–Sat: 9:30am – 5pm

Children’s worksheet


A worksheet has also been created to make the exhibition a fun experience for younger visitors. Aimed at school groups and families alike, the worksheet offers a number of activities to keep children entertained, and stimulate their imagination about the days before electricity!

click the image above to download a PDF

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