Ardnacrusha Memories

Europe @ Work project with ESB Archives and the Community

Two photos on a grey background; a man next to a wooden clock and a close up of the clock

The Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme was one the first major developments of 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,[1] 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, artefacts 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 could include photos, diaries, letters, drawings, tools used, a hat worn. 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.

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.

Jill Cousins, Director of the Hunt Museum

Normally these collection days take place in cultural institutions where stories are recorded, and associated  materials are photographed. However, in light of the pandemic, people will be able to share their stories from the comfort of their own home. You can share your material online, work with a volunteer using Facetime, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Skype or by telephone to record their stories. There is huge community benefit in improving the current social isolation through virtual contact, and in using that 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!

The Hunt Museum 

The Hunt Museum exhibits one of Ireland’s greatest private collections of Art and Antiquities, dating from the Neolithic Period to the 20th century. Generously donated by John and Gertrude Hunt to the people of Ireland, this diverse collection is now housed in Limerick’s 18th Century Palladian style building, formerly The Custom House.



Europeana is Europe’s platform for digital cultural heritage, empowering cultural heritage institutions to share their collections with the world.  Through the Europeana collections website, millions of cultural heritage items from around 4,000 institutions across Europe are available online. We work to share and promote this heritage so that it can be used and enjoyed by people across the world.  Our work contributes to an open, knowledgeable and creative society. The Europeana Foundation is the organisation tasked by the European Commission with developing a digital cultural heritage platform for Europe. 

Europeana DSI is co-financed by the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility.



ESB operates across the electricity market: from generation, through transmission and distribution to the supply of customers with an expanding presence in the Great Britain generation market. In addition, we extract further value through supplying gas, energy services and using our networks to carry fibre for telecommunications. ESB is the owner of the distribution and transmission networks in the Republic of Ireland (via ESB Networks) and Northern Ireland (via Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd).


ESB Archives

ESB Archives located on St Margaret’s Road in Finglas, Dublin preserves and makes accessible over 90 years of historical records documenting ESB’s unique contribution to the social, cultural and economic development of the Irish state. Our new purpose built archive, is the first building of its kind in Ireland to adhere to the newest international standards for conservation of cultural heritage, BS EN 16893. The low passive sustainable design ensures that the archive repository is maintained at the correct temperatures and relative humidity throughout the year to ensure the permanent preservation of all record formats.



The European Expo is a series of exhibitions, seminars over the course of 2020 that celebrates national and European culture and cooperation, with the European Investment Bank art exhibition at its core. Our programme:  


Example Story

Sian’s grandfather-in law was one of the first engineers to work in the power station once it was operational. These are a couple of photos on Sian’s wall at home. He is the man sitting at the control desk. Second, is the Christmas party in 1929, it includes the German and Swedish staff from Siemens. The interview will be with his daughter

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