River Erne

The River Erne Scheme is made up of two separate power stations with a combined generating capacity of 65MW, which are sometimes collectively known as Ballyshannon station:

Station: Cliff
County: Donegal
Fuel type: Hydro
Capacity: 20MW
Status: Active
Commissioned: 1950

Station: Cathaleen’s Fall
Alternate name: Kathaleen’s Fall
County: Donegal
Fuel type: Hydro
Capacity: 45MW
Status: Active
Commissioned: 1951


The Erne Scheme utilises the natural drop of 45m between the two stations at Cliff and Cathaleen’s Fall to form the basis for the second-largest hydro operation in the country.

Starting work in 1946, we excavated 600,000m³ of earth and rock from the 6 km-long Belleek Channel to help manage water control in the catchment area, as well as building a barrage and boat locks at Enniskillen, plus a 1.37 km long tailrace below Cathleen’s Falls.

Overall, the total water storage capacity of the River Erne and its lakes is around 194 million cubic metres and the average water flow is 92m³/second.

Cliff can generate enough power to supply over 12,000 homes while Cathleen’s Fall can create enough to service 26,000 homes.

Click the images below for more information relating to the operation of the Erne Scheme.

Cliff Hydro Electric Power Station from book “A Heritage Inventory of ESB Buildings in Ireland”


Erne PR Pamphlet, 1970s

Cathaleen’s Fall Hydro Power Station from book “A Heritage Inventory of ESB Buildings in Ireland”


Erne PR Pamphlet, 2010s

  1. Please note that the correct name for the hydro generating station at Ballyshannon on the Erne is Cathaleen’s Fall
    I.e. The place where Cathaleen fell.

    • Hi Matthew, We’ve listed the Erne Scheme as comprising of the Cathaleen’s Fall and Cliff stations. And have listed both as separate stations in the a-z links on the right.

  2. Hello

    I’m looking for the penstock details for both dams,
    Cliff and cathaleen fall,

    There are two penstock visible in ballyshannon.

    The ones in cliff are inside the buildings.

    I would like to know the penstock’s (total) and separate diameters, angles and resultant velocities and flow rates.

    This is for a project

    Can anyone help


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