Monday, 13 August 2012
13 August 1925. President W.T. Cosgrave helped to raise the first pylon at the Ardnacrusha power station that would help spread electricity across the Land.
Ardnacrusha power plant is a hydroelectric power station which was originally referred to as The Shannon Scheme. It is located near Ardnacrusha within County Clare approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the Limerick border. It is Ireland's largest river hydroelectric scheme and is operated on a purpose built canal connected to the River Shannon.
The generating plant at Ardnacrusha is composed of three vertical-shaft Francis turbine generators (commissioned in 1929) and one vertical-shaft Kaplan turbine generator (commissioned in 1934) operating under an average head of 28.5 metres.
In 1924-25 the new Irish Free State's Minister for Industry and Commerce Patrick McGilligan commissioned the engineer Dr. Thomas McLoughlin to submit proposals. Dr McLoughlin had started working for Siemens-Schuckert, a large German engineering firm, in late 1922, and produced a scheme that would cost £5.2m. This caused considerable political controversy as the new state's entire budget in 1925 was £25m, but it was accepted. The Siemens report drew on earlier hydrological work of John Chaloner-Smith an engineer with the Commissioners of Public Works.
Developed in conjunction with German engineering giant Siemens, most of the skilled workers and engineers on the power station were Germans. A camp was set up for the workers that included living quarters for 750 men and a dining room that seated 600. Initially employment for 700 was provided, whilst at its peak there were 5,200 employed during the construction phase, with this dropping back to 2,500 near completion. The construction project was not without controversy, with national and governmental debate over wages, conditions, strikes, and spending over-runs.
The Shannon Scheme was officially opened at Parteen Weir on 22 July 1929. One of the largest engineering projects of its day, it was successfully executed by Siemens to harness the Shannon River. It subsequently served as a model for large-scale electrification projects worldwide. Operated by the Electricity Supply Board of Ireland, it had an immediate impact on the social, economic and industrial development of Ireland and continues to supply significant power in the 21st century.