ESB to open Ardnacrusha station for tours

ESB to open Ardnacrusha station for tours

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The hydro-electric station at Ardnacrusha – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

The ESB is opening the gates of the historic Ardnacrusha Power Station to schools and the general public for a unique visitor experience into Ireland’s first national hydro-electric station in Co. Clare.

ESB first began facilitating tours from the general public in June 1928 and welcomed over 85,000 visitors within the first nine months. To mark the 90th anniversary of its foundation, ESB is delighted to revive this tradition and are running dedicated school and public tours during the summer months.

School group visits are being facilitated until 30 June with public tours taking place from 1 July to 31 August 2017. The guided tours can accommodate groups of up to 30 people and runs for approximately 90 minutes. All bookings can be made online.

Visitors are welcomed to the Ardnacrusha Experience at the newly refurbished visitors’ centre before going out on site to view the impressive headrace canal, locks and tailrace. Once inside the station, the living heritage of Shannon Scheme is brought to life through a series of animations which celebrate the history and impact of this iconic project. Visitors are given access to the very heart of the station with unique views of the turbine hall and a visit to the original control room.

Photo: ESB

ESB’s Alan Bane, Plant Manager at Ardnacrusha, said that the station supplied 100 per cent of the nation’s electricity in 1929. “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. The four turbines are still humming, supplying same 86 megawatts of renewable electricity as when they were first installed. The country’s development has been such in the meantime that the power station now represents about two per cent of total installed capacity.”

Alan explains that the building of the Shannon Scheme began in 1925 and took four years, involving 4,000 Irish and 1,000 German workers with contractor Siemens-Schuckert. “It involved the construction of a 12km long head race canal, hydro-electric station and tailrace. Water is delivered to the turbines by four large, cylindrical steel structures known as penstocks.

Each penstock is 41m long, 6m in diameter and can deliver around 100 tonnes of water per second. At the time of completion in 1929, it was the largest hydro-electric station in the world, while a national (110Kv) voltage grid – also a world first – was constructed at the same time, bringing light to Ireland’s major towns and cities.”

See a selection of photos and videos at the ESB Archive.

Too book at tour of the station click here.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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