Bringing in the light: West Cork's role in ESB

November 23rd, 2016 1:06 PM

By Southern Star Team

The ESB's ‘mobile kitchen'

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THE stories of West Cork people feature prominently in a unique book of memories of the roll-out of the Rural Electrification Scheme across the country 70 years ago this month.

Then There Was Light is a collection of tales of the time when Ireland left the dark ages as the ESB brought electricity to even the most remote communities in the largest ever undertaking by the fledgling independent nation.

Farran native Eileen recalls how a sunken world came to exist below the banks of the River Lee as the electricity arrived in the Lee Scheme to power the valley and countryside.

It is as if the world she grew up in has disappeared like Atlantis but in her mind is perfectly preserved under water after being flooded during the work to change the nation.

Local writer John Finbarr O’Sullivan gives an insider’s view of how Bere Island was readied for the changing of the light in the book, which was co-edited by PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney, which contains scores of stories celebrating the 70th anniversary of the scheme that eventually wound up in the late 1970s.

The stories for this collection come from eyewitnesses, ESB employees and the general public as they recalled the suspicions, worries and welcomes the scheme faced during arguably the most important rural Ireland undertaking in our history.

They are diverse in subject matter and geographical spread and encapsulate the pioneering work carried out on what became a rapidly changing rural landscape.


Then There Was Light co-edited by PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney is published by Ballpoint Press and costs €14.99.

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