Connecting Donegal to the national grid

Electricity in the county before ESB

Donegal had electricity before the establishment of ESB in 1927. ESB’s annual reports record 28 local electricity suppliers in the county — that means 28 individuals or companies who had permits to commercially supply electricity to 3 or more homes and businesses in their local area. The reports do not record when each local supplier was first established, merely the number of consumers they supplied, as well as the year the supplier was acquired by ESB.

Donegal’s 28 local electricity providers were as follows:

  • Ardara Woollen and Industrial Co. Ltd. was in operation before 1927. It supplied 69 homes and businesses in 1929, rising to 138 in 1952, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • Ballybofey and Stranorlar Electric Supply Station in Ballybofey was in operation before 1927. It supplied 94 homes and businesses in 1929, falling to 26 in 1953, before the supply was acquired by ESB around 1953—1954.
  • Ballyshannon and Bundoran Electric Supply in Ballyshannon began to supply electricity in 1930, initially supplying 39 homes and businesses, rising to 840 by 1932, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • John Myles and Co. also began to supply electricity in Ballyshannon and Bundoran in 1933, starting with 553 homes and businesses and rising to 723 in 1945, when the supply was acquired by ESB.
  • Buncrana Electric Supply Co. was in operation before 1927. It supplied 259 homes and businesses in 1929, rising to 620 in 1954, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • James Kelly began to supply electricity in Carndonagh in 1932. The company later changed its name to Charles Kelly in 1947, and to the Carndonagh Electric Supply Co. in 1949. It began by supplying 52 homes and businesses in 1933, rising to 282 by 1956, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • Miss M Maguire began to supply electricity in Carrigart in 1933, initially supplying 17 homes and businesses. The company was later taken over by Dermot Walsh in 1946, and its supply grew to 27 by 1954, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • Patrick Gallen began to supply electricity in Clonmany in 1937, initially serving 24 homes and businesses in 1938, rising to 62 by 1956, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • John Gallen supplied electricity in Donegal town before 1927, and is recorded as serving 41 homes and businesses in 1929. The company was taken over by Margaret Gallen in 1932, and it served 48 consumers by the time it was acquired by ESB around 1933—1934.
  • J McGowan and Sons began to supply electricity in Donegal town in 1933, initially serving 142 homes and businesses, rising to 261 by 1952, and was later acquired by ESB around 1954-1955.
  • Templecrone Co-op Agricultural Society Ltd. began to supply electricity in Dungloe in 1930, initially serving 86 consumers, rising to 175 by 1956, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • Leo McGinley began to supply electricity in Falcarragh in 1940, initially serving 43 homes and businesses, rising to 81 by 1956, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • Michael Campbell began supplying electricity in Frosses in 1943, and served 19 homes and businesses by the time it was acquired by ESB around 1951—1952.
  • Glenties Electricity Supply Co. Ltd. began to supply electricity in 1932, initially serving 49 homes and businesses, rising to 136 by 1952, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • St Columba’s Electric Light Station supplied electricity in Killybegs before 1927, and is recorded as serving 50 homes and businesses in 1929. It changed ownership several times, to Rev Bro Superior at St Columba’s Electric Light Station in 1932, to Irish Sea Fisheries Association Ltd. in 1946, and to An Bord Iascaigh Mhara in 1953. It served 185 homes and businesses before being acquired by ESB around 1953—1954.
  • Alexander Wallace at The Foundry, Letterkenny, supplied electricity before 1927, and is recorded as serving 1 home or business by the time it was acquired by ESB around 1931—1932.
  • J McCauley began to supply electricity in Letterkenny in 1932, serving 2 homes or businesses before being acquired by ESB around 1933—1934.
  • The Foyle Shirt and Collar Factory supplied electricity in Lifford before 1927, serving 1 home or business, and was later acquired by ESB around 1933—1934.
  • Donegal County Council began to supply electricity in Lifford in 1930, serving 1 home or business, and was later acquired by ESB around 1933—1934.
  • Donal McGilligan began to supply electricity in Malin in 1938, initially serving 17 homes or businesses, rising to 52 in 1957, when it was acquired by ESB around 1957—1958.
  • McMahon Brothers supplied electricity in Milford before 1927. It supplied 30 homes and businesses in 1929, rising to 52 in 1954, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • William Russell supplied electricity in Milford before 1927, serving 40 homes or businesses by the time it was acquired by ESB around 1954—1955.
  • Moville Electric Supply Co. was in operation before 1927. It supplied 111 homes and businesses in 1929, rising to 315 in 1958, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • Shaw Brothers began to supply electricity in Pettigo in 1932, initially serving 27 homes and businesses, rising to 97 by 1957, and was later acquired by ESB around 1958—1959.
  • Raphoe Electric Lighting Co. Ltd. was in operation before 1927. It supplied 43 homes and businesses in 1929, rising to 94 in 1950, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • Patrick F McGlinchy supplied electricity in Raphoe, Tirconnell before 1927. He supplied 2 homes and businesses in 1929, and was later acquired by ESB around 1932—1933.
  • Robert John Campbell supplied electricity in Ramelton before 1927. He supplied 35 homes and businesses in 1929, rising to 133 in 1954, when it was acquired by ESB.
  • Edward J White began to supply electricity in St Johnston in 1932, initially serving 35 homes and businesses in 1939, rising to 56 by 1953, when it was acquired by ESB.

Shannon Scheme: connecting larger towns and villages to the national grid

The Shannon Scheme first began to generate electricity for the national grid in October 1929, and began to supply the larger cities, towns and villages of Ireland. From 1929, 9 towns and villages across Donegal were directly supplied by the Shannon Scheme:

  • Ballybofey, 1953-1954
  • Ballyshannon, 1945-1946
  • Buncrana, 1953-1954
  • Bundoran, 1945-1946
  • Convoy, 1943-1944
  • Donegal, 1952-1953
  • Letterkenny, 1931-1932
  • Lifford, 1943-1944
  • Stranorlar, 1953-1954

For more information on the connection of these towns, for instance relating to the number of homes and businesses connected, see our connections map here.

Rural Electrification Scheme: connecting rural townlands and villages to the national grid

The Rural Electrification Scheme began in 1946, to bring electricity to Ireland’s rural areas, including smaller villages. During the roll-out of the scheme, Donegal was divided into 45 rural areas. More details on each of these areas is available here.

Post-development: connecting the islands to the national grid

To date, 4 islands off the coast of Donegal have been connected to the grid:

  • Arranmore, 1956
  • Inishbofin, 2002
  • Innishfree, 2000
  • Gola /Gabhla, 2005

For more information on the connection of these islands, see our connections map here.

Generation stations

Since 1927, 3 generating stations have been built in Donegal. Click the links below to read more about each station.

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