The Shannon Scheme is perhaps the most significant industrial project ever completed in the independent Irish state. The project, which harnessed power from the River Shannon was one of the largest engineering projects in Europe at that time.
It was a revolutionary infrastructural development, building Ireland’s first national power station and distribution network. It took four years to complete and at its height provided employment to 5,000 workers.
Officially opened on the 22nd July 1929 by President of the Executive Council, William Thomas Cosgrave, the ceremony was attended by the entire executive council.
The ceremony began with a special blessing by the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr. Fogarty at Parteen Weir, followed by President Cosgrave flicking a switch, signalling the historic moment of the opening of the sluice gates and water soon gushed down into the canal.
At the ceremony, Cosgrave declared:
‘Henceforth the Shannon will be harnessed in the service of the nation, distributing light, heat and power throughout the Saorstat, increasing at once the comfort of our homes and the productive capacity of our farms and factories’.
View the short footage below to hear President Cosgrave’s opening speech.
To this day, the legacy of this mammoth undertaking continues to supply the same 86MW of clean energy as in 1929, making a lasting contribution to the industrial, commercial and social development of the country.
The Shannon Scheme provides inspiration as ESB embrace the energy challenges of the coming decades, seeking to create a brighter future in leading Ireland’s transition towards a low carbon society.