Forty Light Years from Parteen, 1967

An ESB/RTE documentary produced on the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Electricity Supply Board. Features interviews with key figures behind the Shannon Scheme including Thomas McLaughlin (ESB Managing Director), Patrick McGilligan (Minister for Industry and Commerce), Ned Lawler (ESB Public Relations Officer) and Major Bill Stapleton (Commandant at Ardnacrusha).

The documentary, conceptualised by ESB’s Public Relations Department features footage produced from the 1928 Pathe Film on the construction of the Shannon Scheme, ESB films Power for Progress and Power to the Farmer. For the making of the documentary, RTE crews filmed aerial shots of Ardnacrusha in the summertime of 1967 by helicopter.

Narrated by Al Byrne and reading from a script, the documentary begins with still footage reflecting the political and economic situation of Ireland in the early 1920s with still footage from the Civil War era.  Continues to still images of drudgery in rural Ireland pre electricity and footage of Pigeon House in Dublin.

Relates the story of Thomas McLaughlin and how he realised the Shannon Scheme along with Siemens Schukert in Berlin and the Irish Free State Government. Animations are used to describe how electricity is generated at Ardnacrusha. Cartoons are utilised to convey the scepticism and opposition that the Shannon Scheme faced.

Following footage of the construction and official opening of the Shannon Scheme, the documentary includes footage of ESB’s peat stations at Portarlington and Allenwood noting that by 1967 ESB had a portfolio of twenty five stations.

Documentary briefly includes the story of Rural Electrification and development of further ESB stations.

The documentary concludes with joint interviews with Thomas McLaughlin and Patrick McGilligan.

Interviews with the key players of the scheme are extracted and can be viewed below along with milestones in the documentary.

Interview with Thomas McLaughlin

Interview with Ned Lawler

Interview with Major Bill Stapleton

Interview with Patrick McGilligan

Electricity Supply Act 1927

Opening ceremony of Shannon Scheme

Duration: 00:45:15

Script and interviews by P.P. O’Reilly
Narrator: Al Byrne
Photography Reproduction: Phil Dowling
Lighting: Maurice Byrne
Designer: Hywell Morris
Producer: Mrs Pat Baker