The Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme was one the first major developments by the Irish Free State in the 1920s. It played a pivotal role in the development of Ireland in the 20th Century, and paved the way for the social, economic, and industrial development of Ireland.
The building of the Ardnacrusha power station is vividly represented in the Seán Keating painting, Night's Candles are Burnt Out, which is on display in The Hunt Museum.
During the construction of the plant, approximately 4,000 Irish and 1,000 German men lived and worked on-site at Ardnacrusha. Today, almost 100 years on, we want to collect and share their stories. Working with the ESB Archives, Europeana, EuropeanExpo2020, the Hunt Museum Docents and Friends, we hope to collect and share stories, artifacts and memorabilia relating to the Shannon Scheme.
Jill Cousins, Director of the Hunt Museum said: “We are asking anyone with connections to the Shannon Scheme at Ardnacrusha and their descendents to dig out the memorabilia they have of the experience and tell us the accompanying stories. They, or their relatives, may have been involved in the building of the dam, or involved in the set-up, or worked in the power station. We are also interested in anyone involved in the rural-electrification scheme telling us how the advent of electricity changed the modes of work.”
Objects might be photos, diaries, letters, drawings, tools used, the hat worn, reminiscences of the first time you had electricity in your house or school, commemorations of workers involved in the whole Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme. The objects collected become part of Europe At Work - a collection of stories and digital objects about working in Europe made available to all on the Europeana website.
Normally these collection days take place in cultural institutions where stories are recorded and associated materials are photographed but with the current need for social distancing and staying at home, people will now be able to share their material online or work with a volunteer using Facetime, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Skype or by telephone to record their stories. There is huge community benefit in relieving the current social isolation through virtual contact and in occupying a little bit of spare time in finding the memorabilia. So online it is! We will start calling people who have contacted us from Thursday 8th May, and are hoping to host a physical collection day and lunchtime lecture on the Shannon Scheme with Deirdre McParland, Senior Archivist, ESB Archives, on Saturday 26 September 2020. If you or someone you know would like to take part please get in touch!