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Supporting Communities

The ESB Rural Electrification Office (REO) worked with rural community groups to promote the take-up of electricity throughout rural Ireland. These included the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA), Muintir na Tíre and Macra na Feirme. The REO also worked with the Department of Agriculture, Radió Éireann and, later, Teilifís Éireann (these amalgamated to become Radio Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) in due course).
ESB Area organisers and demonstrators were based in rural areas, and developed strong networks within the local community. There were often grassroots links between ESB staff, ICA members, Department of Agriculture inspectors and parish committees. This helped to coordinate efforts to promote electricity to rural women, particularly by other rural women.

Listen to Sean Óg Flood talk about the process of signing households up for electricity in Monaghan:
Sean Óg Flood interviewed by Sorcha O’Brien, ESB Archive, August 2018

The process of installing electricity in an area started with the ESB Area Organiser calling to houses to explain the benefits of electricity and to sign households up to the scheme. The sign-up process was supported by talks and demonstrations in local halls, as well as in mobile demonstration vans. Parish committees, including local clergy, both Catholic and Protestant, were often created to encourage people to sign up.
Promotional techniques included cookery demonstrations, model kitchens and houses, and training courses in domestic science, as well as exhibition stands in the RDS Spring Show, the Cork Agricultural Show and Muintir na Tíre Rural Week.

Listen to Mary O’Leary describe the domestic science classes in her new kitchen in Drimoleague, County Cork in the late 1950s
Mary O’Leary interviewed by Eleanor Calnan in Skibbereen, County Cork, March 2018


The ESB issued numerous pamphlets explaining the benefits of electricity on the farm and in the home.  Much of this material was educational in nature, aimed at combating concerns such as leaks and fires in the thatch with factual information about electricity and how it worked. 

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