In light (no pun intended) of the 70th anniversary of the Rural Electrification Scheme on 5 November 2016, we’ve used this year’s Explore Your Archive campaign to showcase some key pieces from our rural collection.
Rural electrification collection
Our collection relating to the electrification of rural Ireland (1946–1978) is one of the richest in ESB Archives, providing not only a history of ESB and the scheme itself, but a broader social record of life in Ireland during a period of great economic and industrial change. We hold various types of records relating to the scheme, including: the records of the Rural Electrification Office (REO); ESB annual reports; photographs; public relations material such as information pamphlets and print advertisements; issues of the staff magazine REO News; and audiovisual content, such as original video footage and oral histories of retired staff.
New modes of access
At ESB Archives, we pride ourselves on providing quick and easy access to key information about our collections online, using open-source technology. Keeping our researchers’ needs in mind, we’ve compiled data from the REO records, ESB annual reports and issues of REO News, and brought this information to life using maps and infographics. Rural infographics provide a quick overview of key facts about the scheme at national level. Our interactive rural map allows researchers to search all 792 rural areas used in the roll out of the scheme. We also recently launched a series of individual blog posts for each county and rural area, detailing key dates and statistics at a local level.
We update our blog weekly, focusing on recently uncovered or digitised material from our archival collections. Our blog allows us to regularly reach a wide audience and to engage with our material in new ways. It has also inspired members of the public and retired ESB staff to share their ESB story. In the run up to the 70th anniversary of rural electrification, we posted a variety of new material, including: a re-imagining of some of our key rural images using Google Maps; a glimpse into Irish family life in the 1960s through our ESB Housewives’ recipe calendar; and a photographic record of the ESB career of Tim Slevin, who worked on the scheme in the 1950s.
70th anniversary of the Rural Electrification Scheme
It’s been wonderful to see so much happening to mark the recent 70th anniversary of rural electrification and how our archive could contribute to many of these projects. Highlights include: an RTÉ Doc on One broadcast on 5 November 2016, based on the recent book of rural memories Then There Was Light, edited by PJ Cunningham and Joe Kearney; a weekend feature in the Irish Times by award-winning journalist Rosita Boland; and our exhibition at the Carlow County Museum, which will run until the end of 2016.
© all images, text and video copyright ESB Archives