The process of rural electrification

Preliminary canvass The Area Organiser (AO) makes preliminary contact with consumers, assessing local interest, distributing leaflets and discussing the general benefits of electricity.   Area selection Ireland is divided into 792 ‘rural areas’. These areas are typically 25 square miles in size and follow parish boundaries, with priority given to those considered to be most… Continue Reading

First pole of Rural Scheme – 1946

On 5 November 1946, the first pole of the Rural Electrification Scheme was erected at Kilsallaghan, Co. Dublin. Present were WF Roe, Engineer-in-Charge, PJ Dowling, ESB Secretary, and a small gathering of Rural Electrification Office (REO) staff. The event is recalled in detailed the November edition of the REO News from 1948: The evening was cold as… Continue Reading


The Switching On Ceremony

The switching on ceremony was the celebratory pivotal moment of rural electrification. In the early years, the connection of a small remote parish captured the imagination of the media and full coverage was reported in local, national newspapers and on radio. The reporting of the switch on dwindled as the scheme became more widespread. The… Continue Reading

Staff magazine

The Rural Electrification Scheme employed up to 40 separate units of 50-100 workers, spread across 26,000 square miles. Many of these units were stationed in remote localities, and daily face-to-face communication was impossible. Such a widely dispersed workforce presented the Rural Electrification Office (REO) with a challenge – how could it ensure fast and efficient communication among its… Continue Reading

The Rural Pioneers

Read about ESB’s innovators of Rural Electrification and the role they played in The Quiet Revolution. William Roe was appointed as Director in Charge of Rural Electrification on 19 January 1945. An employee of ESB since 1928 specialising in the conversion of existing town electricity networks, Roe then spent the following 15 years  as District Engineer, in Portlaoise,… Continue Reading

The Rural Electrification Office (REO)

The electrification of rural Ireland was an enormous task, one which required synchronised management of a vast number of people and materials all over Ireland. In order to ensure its efficient implementation, it was decided that functions needed to be equally divided between the Rural Electrification Office (REO) headquarters in Dublin, and in each local… Continue Reading


The Original Rural map

Below is a digitised copy of the original rural map used in the scheme. Area boundaries are marked with a green line. County boundaries are marked with a black line ESB district boundaries are denoted by a thick black line. Click on any District below to view a larger map for that District.

Benefits of running water – 1950

Rural electrification brought a number of modern conveniences to Irish rural life, including running water. On 8 and 9 November 1950, a special display on the benefits of running water was mounted by the ESB Rural Electrification Office (REO) at the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) Annual Fair at the Mansion House, Dublin. The centre-piece was… Continue Reading