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Dublin: 2 °C Thursday 17 January, 2019
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Seventy years ago today, the social history of Ireland began changing forever

Almost two million people were without electricity in rural Ireland in 1946.

Source: ESB/YouTube

DESCRIBED AS THE greatest social revolution in Ireland since the land reforms in 1880s, today marks exactly 70 years since the raising of the first pole of the rural electrification scheme

The first pole of about a million was erected on 5 November 1946 in Kilsallaghan, north county Dublin

Back then, almost two million people in 400,000 homes in rural Ireland were without electricity. Almost 20 years later, 81% of the country was connected to the grid and rural parts of the country were transformed.

To celebrate 70 years since the start of the process, the ESB has uploaded some of the striking images taken from the time to the ESB Archives website.

An exhibition on rural electrification also remains open in Carlow County Museum until the end of the year.

It features original appliances and farm machinery from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, including the electric milking and butter machines.

 

Seventy years ago today, the social history of Ireland began changing forever
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  • ESB rural electrification

    Over 1 million poles were erected. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    Demonstrations showed what electricity would do for farms and homes. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    Heat lamps for the chicken coup. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    A cookery demonstration. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    Two housewives getting to grips with the technology. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    A farming egg-sorting machine, Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    ‘For Modern Living’: a demonstration of the benefits of electricity in the home, 7 May 1960.Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    A mobile rural demonstration for both the home and the farm, 19 June 1956. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    A mobile kitchen for rural demonstrations. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    Lights on in the 100,000th premises connected, 1954.Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    Electrifying rural Ireland, 26 January 1956. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    Where old and new Ireland meet, 31 July 1957. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    Planning the 792 rural areas.Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    St Patricks Day Parade, circa 1954. Source: ESB
  • ESB rural electrification

    The Area Organiser sells appliances door-to-door. Source: ESB

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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