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ESB fuse board and electricity meter, 1954

The cost of electricity was of particular concern to many people in rural Ireland, as it added another bill to low and uneven farm incomes. The ESB bill was divided into two sections – the standing charge and then a rate based on usage in the previous month. The meter was read by ESB staff on a regular basis, and then the bill was paid in the nearest ESB office.

Listen to Kathleen McQuillan talking about having the electricity meter read and paying bills in rural Co. Monaghan:
Kathleen McQuillan interviewed by Geraldine O’Connor in Clones, County Monaghan, February 2017


The electricity meter was usually installed inside the front door, and watched carefully to control the size of the bill. The ESB provided the meter and fuse board, but any internal wiring was the responsibility of the home owner. A shortage of trained electricians early on meant that many houses had installations done by amateurs or untrained tradesmen, which didn’t help with fears about electrical fires.

Listen to Una Carty talking about having her house wired for electricity for the first time:
Una Carty interviewed by Alison Mac Cormaic in Loughrea, County Galway, November 2017


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