We are going to put into the homes of our people in rural areas a light which will light up their minds as well as their homes – Deputy James Larkin Junior, 7 March 1945 The Rural Electrification Scheme began in Ireland 70 years ago, described as the greatest social revolution since the… Continue Reading
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
Promotional film from the 1950s with updates on progress of Rural Electrification Scheme
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 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
View our gallery of rare photos from the days of Rural Electrification.
The collaboration between ESB and local communities and organisations like the ICA ensured success for the Rural Electric Scheme...
So the physical work of rural electrification was almost done – the poles were up, the line was laid, and more and more premises in the area were being connected every day. But the success of the scheme depended on more than just the ‘switch on’ of the lights – as Michael Shiel notes, ‘it… Continue Reading
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
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 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
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.
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