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Kitchen Power: Women's Experiences of Rural Electrification

Explore the introduction of electricity to homes across Ireland.

Opening July 20th 2019


I can always remember my mother saying, “this is heaven, this has to be heaven”

…because it took the drudgery out of the hard work people had to do.

Maureen Gavan - Interviewed February 2017


Rural electrification changed the lives of women in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s, where everyday items such as the washing machine relieved them of the hardship of many labour intensive household chores. This engaging exhibition looks at the ways in which these products were advertised and promoted as part of a modern lifestyle, and how the advertising fantasies translated into the reality of the average rural Irish kitchen.  
'ESB salesman talking to couple about appliances, Muintir na Tíre Rural Week, Mullingar, County Westmeath, May 1954 (Courtesy of the ESB Archive)
As part of the exhibition visitors will be transported back in time with objects and advertisements of the era, a 1950s ESB/ICA model kitchen reconstructed by GMIT Letterfrack, textile art work commissioned by Age & Opportunity and stories from those whose lives were intrinsically changed by this dramatic shift in Irish culture.

Old meets new at an ESB electrical demonstration, Upperchurch, Tipperary, 1957 Courtesy of the ESB Archive)

For more information, visit the Electric Irish Homes website, and for information on the textile art project visit Our Irish Heritage.

Servis supertwin twin tub washing machine, mid 1960s, on loan from Bernard O'Connell