Sunday 4 December 2016

Grassroots diary: Do you recall when rural Ireland went electric?

Claire McCormack

Published 13/07/2016 | 02:30

PJ Cunningham, author of 'A Fly Never Lit'
PJ Cunningham, author of 'A Fly Never Lit'

Doyou, a family member, a neighbour or a friend remember the day candles and lanterns were quenched and lights were finally switched on in the homes of rural Ireland?

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If so, your treasured memories, personal tales or handed down stories of the 'Rural Electrification Scheme', often described as 'The Quiet Revolution' are being sought as part of a new publication out later this year.

The book - Then There Was Light - hopes to provide a valuable snapshot of the time Ireland left the dark ages, by allowing power and light into the midst of even the most remote communities.

The book will be accompanied by an RTE radio documentary to coincide with the celebrations surrounding the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the Rural Electrification Scheme.

The stories for the collection and radio programme will seek to provide a frank insight into the suspicions, worries and welcome the ESB's light brigade faced as they began work on one of the most important undertakings in recent Irish history.

It is envisaged that the stories from all over the country will help to encapsulate and preserve how rural Ireland came to terms with the prospect of a rapidly changing lifestyle.

The book and documentary will be co-edited by Around The Farm Gate editor PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney. They are seeking particular stories rather than people just remembering that gangs of workers arrived to dig holes and put up poles.

Dr Kearney said: "Ideally, there should be a bit of tension or fun or drama involved in what people send in to us.

"Like the story of how the first big 'switch on' ceremony was fraught with the potential of becoming the first switch off because of a major storm," he said.

PJ Cunningham, co-editor, says countless heartbreaking and hilarious tales are already flying in.

"There are so many interesting and funny lines that we could take, but even if they don't make the final cut they will be published in the ESB archives where they will be kept forever," he said.

If you have a story you want to get in touch please contact Dr Joe Kearney on 087 2633041 or joe.kearney@eircom.net. PJ Cunningham can be contacted on 086 8217631, pjcunningham1@gmail.com or ballpointpress1@gmail.com

All stories received will be considered for inclusion in the radio documentary and book.

Meanwhile, Crossmahon Macra will hold a charity tractor run and barbecue evening on July 17. Registration is at midday, all proceeds will go to Bandon Community Hospital. Prizes for best vintage and modern tractor will be up for grabs.

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