Patrick McGilligan, TD

Patrick McGilligan (1889–1979) was born in Coleraine, Co Derry. Also a professor of latin and a barrister-at-law, it is as Minister for Industry and Commerce (1924–1932) that he exerted his influence to steer supporting legislation through the Dáil in support of the Shannon Scheme, and his counterpart Thomas McLaughlin. This was a tenacious and delicate task – McGilligan acted as go-between, keeping the government informed on progress and ensuring the project remained within the conditions of its contract.

As David Harkness notes in his biography of McGilligan:

[he] successfully implemented the daring Shannon hydro-electric scheme, along with the institution of a national grid and the founding of the Electricity Supply Board (1927), the first and most successful of the pioneering semi-state bodies created to manage essential services… The years 1927–32, therefore, mark the apogee of his political career and of his huge contribution to the development of his country both domestically and internationally… power and light were brought to factory and cottage as the country emerged from the neglect of centuries and the ravages of recent civil war.

McGilligan’s personal papers are held in UCD Archives.


Reference: David Harkness, ‘McGilligan, Patrick’, Cambridge Dictionary of Irish Biography Online.

1 Comment
  1. McGilligans historical legacy with regard to the founding of the ESB was not mentioned in our history books when I attended school.Men like him ought to be highlighted in my grand children’s education along with the other great social reformers in the early years of the state.We have plenty of shadows in our history and not enough light!

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