• Tommy Hourigan, Raheen, Limerick

Article from the Grange Parish Book suggested for reading this week (week 4)


Grange Electrification Last week's (week 3) suggested article for reading (The Life and Times of Austin Cregan) was about personalities; this week we have chosen an article about a notable event.

In February 1952, electrical power was switched on for the Grange locality to much excitement and acclaim, bringing a modern way of living that instantly changed people's lives. In his article titled Grange Electrification, Pa (Patrick) O'Connell of Lower Grange told the general story of rural electrification in Ireland and specifically electrification of the Grange locality. Pa, who spent most of his working life with the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), penned his article with great knowledge wittily conveyed, making his article a most informative and entertaining read. The following are extracts from the article:

"In modern Ireland, life without electricity is inconceivable. We would be devastated beyond comprehension if we lost this source of energy for any extended period. We have all, most likely, experienced short electricity outages owing to forces of nature, planned grid maintenance events and occurrences as simple as fuse malfunction.


How inconvenienced and almost helpless we can become in our homes or at places of employment when an outage of any length occurs. Just a few minutes without electricity can be sufficient to bring on fits of panic and helplessness, such is our utter reliance upon it. Electricity is critical and essential to modern day life and when we are deprived of it, we can become very unnerved..."

"In Ireland, the first public electricity supply scheme was established in Dublin in 1880. Various towns and parts of cities were supplied with electricity prior to Independence. However, country people (and many urbanites too) had to gaze with envy at the bright town lights from a distance and for a long time to come.

The new Irish Free State was progressive in getting the great Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme off the ground, just a few short years after the Independence of 1922. The Irish State realised (as did the USA and Germany) that the private sector could not supply electricity on a sufficiently large scale and that State intervention was required. By the time the Scheme was launched, it was the largest of its kind in the world."

"Usually, members of the ESB staff stayed with local families. According to Shiel, 'A former Area Clerk recalled how on returning to his farm digs at night, when the family had gone early to bed, he would find his supper laid out on the kitchen table. His first duty, however, was to take a feeding bottle of milk to a piglet - the delicate runt of the litter - which was cosily ensconced in a canvass bag hammock beside the fire. Only when the bonham had been fed and tucked up in for the night did he commence his own supper.'"

"In order to bring electricity to the community of Grange, a single phase 10 kVA spur line was taken from a pole, numbered twenty-four, on the Bruff backbone line, which was located at the rear of the present home of Michael Weekes at Holycross. The spur line crossed the road at the present home of Seamus Ryan and his family, travelled north by the west side of Grange Stone Circle, passed over Grange Hill and on to Lower Grange and from a distribution point there to local customers, including The Hamlet Bar and Madden’s Forge."

"A great debate took place in nearly every household as to where to locate sockets, lights and switches. The discussion went on in the pubs, at the creamery, at shops and after Mass on Sundays. In my own home, I remember a heated discussion between my mother and father over the positioning of sockets (two pins with earth). Mother wanted two sockets; she called them plugs, but father said one was good enough, and a light switch was a similar story. They arrived at a compromise; mother got one socket with the promise of another one later. Most homes were wired for one socket, two lights and a Sacred Heart light. When the power was switched on to homes, another issue arose where there were children - every child wanted to be the one to switch on the electric light!"

The full article may be read HERE. Next week (week 5) we will suggest another article for reading. Kind Regards to All.

#RuralElectrification #GrangeElectrification #PaOConnell

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