Power to the People: ESB opens Ardnacrusha for public tours
Summer days out
The ESB is opening Ardnacrusha Power Station for public tours throughout July and August, it has announced.
The tours follow eight weeks of school visits, the ESB says, during which some 4,000 schoolchildren passed through the Co. Clare station's gates.
“The building is so big. Even though I am afraid of heights, it was so cool to look out and see Thomond Park and the rest of Limerick,” said Grace Finnan, a sixth-class pupil from Scoil Íde Primary School in nearby Corbally, Limerick City.
Visitors can book the hydro-electric station tours online at esb.ie, with free, 90-minute guided visits accommodating groups of up to 40 people.
Available on weekdays, they celebrate 90 years since the ESB's foundation.
The 'Ardnacrusha Experience' begins at the station's newly refurbished visitors’ centre, before going out on site to view the headrace canal, locks and tailrace.
Inside the station, the living heritage of the Shannon Scheme is brought to life through a series of animations, according to the ESB.
Visitors are also given access to the very heart of the station with unique views of the turbine hall and a visit to the original control room.
The Shannon Scheme began in 1925 and took four years, involving 4,000 Irish and 1,000 German workers with contractor Siemens-Schuckert.
"At the time of completion in 1929, it was one of the largest hydro-electric stations in the world," says the ESB's Alan Bane, Plant Manager at Ardnacrusha.
"A national (110Kv) voltage grid – also a world first – was constructed at the same time, bringing light to Ireland’s major towns and cities.”
By 1929, the station supplied 100pc of Ireland's electricity.
“Our workplace is an important historic site in Ireland’s development, so it has been a source of great pride to everyone who works here to open our gates to the public this summer," Bane says.
"The four turbines are still humming, supplying same 86 megawatts of renewable electricity as when they were first installed."
Today, however, they supply just 2pc of Ireland's total installed capacity.