To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the establishment of ESB’s Public Relations Department, we have launched previously unseen film footage commissioned by ESB from the 1920s to the 1980s. Our film archive offers unique insights into the social, cultural and economic development of Ireland throughout this period.
ESB first dipped its toes into the film world when they entered an agreement in April 1928 with the First National Pathé Film Company to film Ireland’s first hydroelectric station on the River Shannon at Ardnacrusha, Co. Clare. The film was shown in cinemas, school and colleges nationwide for educational purposes.
From the 1950s to 1980s, ESB employed the services of acclaimed Austrian filmmaker George Fleischmann (1912 – 1995) who incidentally crash landed in Ireland while on a surveillance mission during World War II. Interned at the Curragh Camp, he produced c. fifteen films for ESB ranging from new power stations to documentaries on rural electrification and ESB’s consultancy abroad, known today as ESB International.
The first of the documentaries produced in 1955 by Fleischmann, ‘Power for Progress’, narrated by the broadcaster Eamonn Andrews details the remarkable contribution of ESB to Irish society from its foundation in 1927 to 1955. In addition to footage of ESB’s various hydro, peat and coal stations the documentary provides footage of domestic scenes from the 1950s, the benefits of the all-electric house. Social insights are explored through footage of industrial and commercial activity throughout Ireland. Views of the original Georgian landscape on Fitzwilliam Street provide architectural insights before the re-development of ESB’s Head Office in the 1960s.
On a futuristic theme, the short film ‘Power for Tomorrow’ produced in 1968, explores the countless benefits that electricity has brought to everyday life in Ireland opening with scenes from the air traffic control centre at Dublin Airport.
The documentary ‘More Power to the Farmer’ produced in 1957, eleven years into the Rural Electrification Scheme featured the Irish actor John Cowley who later starred in the television series, The Riordans. The documentary details the impactful story of rural electrification throughout this transformative time in Irish history, described as the greatest social revolution in Ireland since the land reforms of the 1880s.
The 1961 short film ‘Modern Living Country Style’ filmed at the RDS on the occasion of the Horse Show features the journalist and the first female Lord Mayor of Limerick City, Francis Condell, demonstrating the most modern country home equipped with new electric appliances transforming the lives of Irish housewives through practical and innovative design.
ESB employees were a regular feature in many of the documentaries, in particular the 1972 documentary on Turlough Hill, Co. Wicklow, ‘Peak Power’, dedicated entirely to the workers. It features interviews with the employees who contributed to the largest pumped storage civil engineering project of its time.
For those looking for more detailed technical aspects of engineering projects, the 1975 documentary ‘Turlough Hill, Peak Power’ and the 1985 documentary ‘Moneypoint Power from Coal’ detail the mammoth construction of both generation stations and the logistics required. Filmed over the construction years, the documentaries capture significant milestones throughout the projects.
Footage extends beyond Irish shores, with the 1982 film, ‘Partners in Power’ showcasing ESB’s consultancy overseas, known today as ESB International, documenting electrification projects in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Looking towards the future was a common theme throughout the documentaries and the 1984 film ‘Tomorrow’s House Today’ was no exception. A research project based on the construction of six houses in Kilcock, Co. Kildare, the film depicts the planning and construction of the houses, each fitted with various different electrical and insulation systems. The results were monitored and analysed by ESB to ensure that the most efficient building and insulation techniques will be used in the future.
Television commercials previously launched are now integrated into the film archive along with new adverts.
For further enquiries regarding the film archive please email firstname.lastname@example.org