The Shannon Scheme

And The Electrification of the Irish Free State

Edited by: Andy Bielenberg

Publication Date: August 2002


The Shannon Scheme, a massive hydroelectric project centred at Ardnacrusha in south-east Co. Clare, remains the most ambitious engineering project undertaken in the history of the Irish state. Its scale and importance made it an economic centrepiece of the state building programme during the 1920s, and one of the few major success stories of the Cumann na nGaedheal government. Incorporating a wide range of new research, this book brings together an unusual collection of essays providing readers with a clear insight into what the Scheme involved, how it worked and who was responsible for it.

These essays are accompanied and enhanced by dramatic black and white photographs taken over the duration of the construction phase (drawn from ESB and Siemens archives), as well as Sean Keating’s celebrated documentary paintings and drawings. The Shannon Scheme follows the story from Thomas McLaughlin’s original vision in 1922 through to its realization in 1929 and the more recent history of the station. It examines the pivotal role of both the state and the German electrical engineering firm, Siemens of Berlin, who even built a railway system to service the project, which witnessed some of the most gruelling labour conditions in Ireland during the interwar years. This remarkable collaborative enterprise is fittingly commemorated in a work of scholarship and record over seventy years after its origins.


Andy Bielenberg lectures in history at the National University of Ireland, Cork.



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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 170 × 240 mm
Publication Date

August 2002


Hardback, 192pp