The Charge of The Light Brigade
(The Story of the Coming of Electricity to the Parish)


Des Waters

When the English chemist and physicist, Michael Faraday, invented the first dynamo in 1831 and when Thomas Alva Edison (in America) and Joseph Wilson Swan (in England), simultaneously, created the light bulb in 1878, they little realised that, apart from creating the means to illuminate the entire planet, they were collectively contributing to the cause of multiple minor accidents on the winter night streets of Taghmon village, between the years 1941 and 1949 - but, more about that later. They were also unaware that they were forging links in a chain of events, which would result in the accidental death of an itinerant cow in an E.S.B. pole-hole in Ballyweather in 1941. This bovine refugee, from the hungry acres, was roaming the countryside in search of a tasty bit of sustenance, when it plunged headlong into a six and a half foot deep hole which at the time was full to the brim with water. It thus became the first and only fatality in the long campaign for the electrification of the village of Taghmon and its immediate environs. A small price to pay, one would say, (except the cow, of course) for the magical advantages of domestic electricity.

Until 1925, when the hydro station at Ardnacrusha was started, there was a certain amount of electrical power in use around the country: this was generated and distributed by small producers, mostly in the cities and the larger towns. Some private houses also had systems, but these were few and far between.

After the First World War, and with the advent of independence in Ireland, certain individuals put forward, commendable, but rather vague, suggestions about utilising the abundant water power available in Ireland. 'If all our rivers were harnessed,' they said, 'we could light the universe.'- a bit fanciful, one would think.

Tom McLoughlin

However, there was one man who stood head and shoulders above all the rest. He was dynamic and resourceful, and possessed a prophet's vision. He was a man capable of developing a vague dream and nurturing it into a practical reality; a man who became as vigorous a driving force, in the formation of our national electricity system, as Michael Cusack had been in the founding of the G.A.A. 41 years earlier. This man was Dr. T. (Tom) A. McLoughlin, (1896-1971) an Irish graduate of electrical engineering, who, at that time, was working for the German firm of Siemens-Schukers and earning a salary of £5000 a year. (£150,000 today)

He dreamt of a huge central generating plant, located on the river Shannon, which would pump its life enhancing energy into all corners of our island. He put his plan to Patrick McGilligan, Minister for Industry and Commerce, who became an enthusiastic supporter. After strong opposition from less than imaginative banking and commercial groups, the government finally gave the go-ahead. On the 4th of August, 1925, a labourer, with a ceremonial pick, shovel and crowbar on his back, walked into a field in Ardnacrusha and the Shannon Scheme was officially under way.

On the 29th of July 1929, he ceremonially walked out again and the Shannon Hydro Electric Scheme was officially ready to generate.

The E.S.B

While this huge undertaking was in progress, an act of the Dail set up the Electricity Supply Board as a statutory body, with wide powers to control the generation, distribution and sale of electricity. The 29-year - old, McLoughlin, was appointed its managing director at a fraction of his German salary. Miles and miles of blue-grey pylons began criss- crossing the countryside. These were designed to carry three copper or aluminium cables, with a capacity of 38,000 volts, to towns and cities throughout Ireland. Some readers will remember the building of the line (it is no longer there) which passed through Assagart, Camross, Caroreigh, Bricketstown and on to Barntown, where it entered a transformer station, and from there proceeded, at a reduced voltage, to Wexford town.

During the 1930s, the E.S.B. had made giant strides in their determined scheme for the 'electrification of the whole Free State'. By 1930 they had, amazingly, succeeded in bringing electricity to 40,000 homes, but by 1939 this had risen to 160,000 and staff had risen from 1,600 to 2,500 during the same period.

By 1943, 95% of the urban and semi-urban population had been supplied; still, only 50% of the total population had electricity; and this deprived 50% was predominantly rural.

Taghmon Prepares To See 'The Light'

The coming of power to Taghmon village - classified semi-urban- is best told through the 'Taghmon Notes' from the pages of The Free Press and People Newspapers. (Mike Martin, Free Press; P. J. Cullen, The People.)

Electric light: Land owners adjacent to the village have been notified that certain trees will be removed to facilitate the erection of poles to carry the E.S.B.'s overhead mains for the purpose of installing electric light in Taghmon. The work of extending the mains is expected to start about the 14th inst. Free Press 8th Mar. 1941

Electric light: The parochial house, the church and a number of houses in the village are being wired in anticipation of the extension of the E.S.B. current in the near future. Free Press 21st June 1941

E.S.B.: About a score of men are erecting poles and the work is nearing completion. The current is expected by September. The village is now a network of poles and it is hoped that the Health Board will see to the public lighting without delay as the streets will be very dark in the winter nights and the poles will be an added obstruction. Free Press 19th July 1941

Candle Power

The candle shortage: The ordinary halfpenny candle is now 3d or 4d and can't be got. Various substitutes are being suggested and argued upon at many firesides and it is claimed that some experiments to this end have been tried out and have given a measure of satisfaction. Free Press 26th July 1941

Solving the Problem: The lighting problem in Taghmon has been the source of much speculation and inconvenience, and as the evenings grow longer the situation will become more tense. Many families in the district are compelled to grope their way to bed in darkness, as paraffin and candles are unobtainable. Up to forty years ago, farmers in the district who were in the habit of killing their own pigs at given periods, melted down the rendered fat, making their own dip candles which, it is said, gave comparatively good light. Many who took part in these operations state that a remarkably large number of candles were made in this manner from the fat of one pig. There is no reason why this method of candle making should not be reverted to where pigs are killed for home consumption. Mr. George Hurn, Taghmon, has produced some excellent examples composed of wax and mutton fat; but unfortunately his supply of raw material is inadequate to meet the demand. He uses old bicycle pumps as moulds. The finished article is slightly larger than the ordinary candle, giving very good results. The People 9th Aug. 1941.

Electric light: The extenuation of the overhead E.S.B. cables throughout the village has been completed and private houses are getting wired up as quickly as possible for the new lighting service. With the shortage of candles and lamp oil the electric current is particularly welcome. Free Press 2nd Aug. 1941. Up to 40 houses in the village have been wired for electricity. The meters will be installed next week and it is hoped that the current will be available next month. Owing to the scarcity of paraffin oil the electric light will be doubly welcome. Free Press 20th Sep. 1941.

The Switch On

Switch on: Very Rev. T. Scallan, P. P. switched on the current for the village at 5pm on Friday of last week (26th Sep. 1941). St. Fintan's Church was the first place illuminated. The shops and houses threw out a bright glow of light when darkness fell and Taghmon was looking its best. Free Press 4th Oct. 1941

Electric Light Installation: Taghmon had its church, business establishments and many private houses electrically lighted for the first time on Friday of last week. During peace devotions on Friday evening, the large congregation in St. Fintan's Church witnessed this beautiful church being electrically lighted for the first time. The People 4th Oct. 1941

The eleven cottages in Mahoney's Row- or, 'The Dardanelles' as they were sometimes referred to - were not connected until 1949: the anomaly was due to their being classed as rural. Also, like everywhere else, the village had its quota of dissidents - the last house was connected in 1971, thirty years after the first.

It is of interest, also, to note, that in 1944, a labourer's (i.e. the man who 'dug the deep holes and hoisted the long poles and dragged out the grey wire across the land') wages were £2-15s-0d a week; a linesman (he worked on top of the pole) earned £4-0s-0d, a driver £3-15s-0d and an electrician £5-0s-0d. A unit of electricity cost 0.61 old pence and was known as 'the charge of the light brigade'. (a unit had cost 1.11 in 1930 but by 1971 it had risen to 1.06) The average customer had a 40 watt bulb in each room and a power point (socket) in the kitchen, which, in most households, was solely ornamental; the iron, the fridge, the radio etc, only came along later; and then at the pace of an arthritic snail.

Taghmon BC (before current)

Taghmon village BC had finally dipped a tentative toe into the 'dolce vita' of the mid-twentieth century: but there was still a long long way to go before it was fully immersed and swimming freely.

Prior to September of 1941, when the humming vibrant grey lines eventually reached the village, Taghmon, after dark, was, for all the world, like the night-time setting for a Russian production of 'The Brothers Karamozov'. This was especially true during the long moonless hours of winter, when windows only managed a sickly yellow glow, which scarcely reached the footpath. Men conversed in dark corners, and muffled goodnights were exchanged between mysterious figures huddled in doorways. When a pub door opened and a smelly, unsteady bundle paused for a minute or two to find its bearings, one could see behind it a dimly lit den of swirling grey smoke, in which crouched figures seemed to collude in conspiratorial voices. One could hear racking smokers' coughs tearing their way out from damaged lungs. A hunched, heaving shape, more ailing than the rest, would be striving desperately to keep down its precious gut-full of black porter. A rasping high-pitched laugh might sometimes escape from the wretchedness and drift out into the night. Then the bundle would merge into the blackness again, as someone slammed the door shut mid a deluge of obscenities. Curious, paper-chainlike, silhouettes would materialise, as furtive figures passed in front of the dimly lit windows. Occasionally, a solitary pony and spring car would echo its way up the Main Street, recognisable only by the clip-clop of the pony's shoes and the clatter of the iron wheels. The sound would continue up the Ross Road and peter into obscurity as it passed beyond the Bank of Ireland. Maybe, if the wind were suitable, its eerie echoes would still be audible from as far out as Josie's Turn. A slightly nervous voice might be heard whispering from the shadows, 'God Almighty, lads! –It's the dead coach!'

The Long Crusade For Street Lighting

More Light: An effort is being made to have at least three public lamps erected in the village owing to the difficulty of negotiating the up and down paths from one street to another in the dark. Free Press 22nd Nov 1941

Fr. Scallan had scarcely thrown the switch when the residents were clamouring for street lamps. (And why not?) They found that, even though the scary eerie shadows had been almost totally eliminated from fearful corners in pub and living room, the constant nightly exposure to the unaccustomed glare from electric bulbs played havoc with their former cat like ability to negotiate the pitch black night-time streets. So for the next eight years, while they waited in vain for the ever promised illuminations, the winter darkness was constantly rent with screams of agony and groans of pain as people crashed headlong into the newly erected poles, fallen bicycles, patient asses left unattended outside public houses, abandoned wheelbarrows and sometimes, each other.

The following is a condensed version of the long crusade waged by a persistent Taghmon man, Mike Martin, in the notes section of the Free Press, in search of those elusive streetlights. During the eight-year campaign, his gruesome accounts of those multiple accidents were cleverly deployed as a propaganda machine.

No Lights: Owing to the number of street accidents during the winter nights every year residents of the village are hoping that the Co. Council will provide street lighting during this winter. Free Press 5th Dec. 1942

At Last: It is understood that the street lighting in Taghmon, by the E.S.B., will be in operation as from October 1st. The long desired convenience will give much satisfaction to the residents. Free Press 11th Sept. 1943

Street Lighting: The long awaited lighting of the streets by electricity has not yet materialised. Owing to the frequency of minor accidents in the streets at night the residents hope that the promise of adequate public lighting will soon be fulfilled. Free Press 11th Dec. 1943

Development Association: An effort is being made to revive the local Development Association with a view to expediting the sewerage and public lighting schemes and bringing about other improvements. Free Press 8th Jan. 1944

Accident: Paddy Donovan, of Stream St., the local postman and helper with Mr. R. E. Corish's auctions, fell and broke his arm when going home on Saturday night. The absence of public lighting in the streets is blamed for the mishap. Free Press 22nd Feb. 1944

Public Lighting: A memorial is being signed in Taghmon requesting the County Manager to expedite the provision of public lighting of the streets before the winter, as in recent years many accidents have occurred each winter on the dark streets and footpaths. Free Press 2nd Sept. 1944.

There was also talk of a cinema around this time - it opened on July 19th 1945- but that's another story.

A Public Demand: A memorial to the County Council to provide public lighting for the streets of Taghmon will be presented near the church on Sunday for signatures. Free Press 11th Dec. 1944

Accidents: Three accidents attributed to the absence of lighting occurred on Thursday night of last week. Two local women who had been at the church fell in Chapel St. when they walked into a fallen bicycle in the darkness. One of them broke her wrist and the other injured her leg. James McGrath, Ballyhurst, crashed into a horse on the Ross Road and wrecked his bicycle. He was unhurt but his bicycle was in bits. Free Press 13th Jan. 1945

Street Lighting: A memorial, signed by the ratepayers of Taghmon, has been sent to the County Manager asking to have streets lights provided before winter sets in. Free Press 15th Sept. 1945

Street Lighting: The announcement that the County Manager has arranged to have street lighting in operation for the coming winter is welcome news in Taghmon, where accidents in the dark streets have been frequent in recent years. Free Press 29th Sept. 1945

Following a gripe about the telephone system, the following appeared in the Taghmon Notes: The delay in installing public lighting in the village is also causing dissatisfaction. Free Press 1st Dec. 1945

More Calamities: The unlighted streets in the village have caused numerous falls and collisions during the recent dark nights. Free Press 2nd Feb. 1946

Grievances: The residents in Taghmon village are hoping their long endured grievance, caused by the want of public lighting and sewerage schemes, will be remedied before the winter. As privately owned concerns appear to have no difficulty about getting all the equipment needed for such facilities, the delay of the Co. Council in meeting the public need in Taghmon is causing much dissatisfaction. Free Press 21st Oct. 1946

Accident: A local woman, Mrs. M. Lynam, High St., fell one night recently and sustained a deep cut on her shin. She is still confined to bed by the injury. Free Press 30th Oct. 1946

Rural electrification swung into motion on Tuesday, the 5th of November 1946, at Kilsallaghan, Oldtown, Co. Dublin, when the first pole was ceremoniously erected. From then, until the initial development plan was substantially finished, in 1964, the work pace was frenetic, but more about that further on: let us return to the dark mean streets of accident plagued Taghmon.

More Casualties: A Miss Furlong, from Barntown, hurt her wrist when she fell in the darkness of Chapel St. and Jim 'Baker' Walsh sustained an injury to his nose when he crashes into a pier on Christmas Eve. Free Press 28th Dec. 1946

Street Lighting: Local people, urged by the comments of numerous cross-channel visitors to Taghmon regarding the absence of facilities such as public lighting, waterworks and sewerage in the village, are hoping that the long delay in providing these amenities will be ended this year. Free Press 9th Aug. 1947

Around this time a chicken with a duck's head was reported hatched out in Aughermon.

Black Out: The absence of public lighting in the streets of Taghmon continues to be a matter for strong grievance among the residents. Accidents in the streets at night were numerous during recent winters and will continue to do so while the blackout remains. Free Press 4th Oct. 1947

Six years and no lights!

Fell into Stream: Mrs Elizabeth Furlong, High St., Taghmon and her son, Michael, fell into the stream in Stream St., while leaving their home on Friday night of last week. The unlighted streets contributed to the accident, which resulted in severe shock for Mrs. Furlong. Free Press 13th Dec. 1947

Taghmon Street Lighting: The secretary of the local Development Committee has been informed by the General Manager of Public Lighting, E.S.B. that the village street lighting will be shortly installed. The communication has been forwarded to the County Manager and it is hoped that the twelve lamps (it was three in 1941) will soon be lighting up the streets. Free Press 29th Dec. 1947

Hope springs eternal . . . .

Of course, a form of street lighting existed in the village, off and on, from as far back as candles and primitive lanterns were known. A few people would 'take a great notion' and hang one of these puny things outside their door. Then they would realise that their neighbours might be availing of the glimmer and take it in again. The first real effort at street lighting was made in the early 1900s and two of the lamps can be clearly seen in photographs of old Taghmon, which appear on pages 105 and 106 of vol. 2. 'Wexford in the Rare oul' Times' by John Hayes and Nicky Furlong. One was situated at the Creamery Corner, (now the Old Mill), another at the Courthouse Corner, (now Mike Ryan's), and a third, of which there is still some evidence, stood sentinel on Keating's Corner. (now Roche's Castle Bar). They were oil burning and were tended by the owners of the premises on which they rested. Under these beacons, the village Hampdens gathered; especially the one at the Courthouse Corner: every conceivable topic was raised and exhaustively thrashed out: depths of scholarship were explored and heights of eloquence achieved that would make the philosophical dialogues at Plato's Academy seem like the babbling of drunks at a wake. Unfortunately, tradition tells us that these handsome but primitive illuminations had little impact on the surrounding darkness and eventually succumbed to apathy. The late Mike Waters used to quote Clem Molloy, famous iconoclast and wit, as saying that, 'When the "so-an-so" things were lit, the "so-an-so" place got darker!'

Public Lighting: It is stated that all that is now needed for the installation of electric lighting in the streets of the village is the sanction of the County Council, or an order from them for the installation. If that be so some local pressure should be applied by the residents and the people of the surrounding area who frequent Taghmon in the evenings, to have a few lamps set up now that the dark nights of a long winter are at hand. Free Press 11th Sept. 1948

Seven years and no lights.

In the Dark: The residents of Taghmon are still wondering why the proposed twelve lights have not been erected in the village. They cannot understand the delay and are anxious in view of the coming of the winter nights. Free Press 29th Sept. 1948

Street Lighting: A letter sent by the County Manager to Miss O'Ryan M.C.C. saying that the E.S.B. had intimated that street lights cannot be provided in Taghmon until a supply of brackets is available, and that the E.S.B. hoped to have brackets made locally, has caused disappointment. Owing to the number of accidents in recent years in the dark streets, the residents hoped that the agitation for lighting would have been successful before the coming of winter. Free Press 9th Oct. 1948

It Never Rains But It Pours

Cloudburst: There was a massive, thunderous, cloudburst in Taghmon on Sunday last, the 14th and cascades of water roared down the Main Street towards Mahoney's Row. Free Press 20th Nov. 1948

And the good people of Taghmon, hath said onto the Lord, 'Oh, Lord, give us light!' and the good Lord, being generous, opened the heavens and gave them a flood.

Hallelujah! . .'We have seen the lights!'

But the deluge proved to be a benign omen, for on April Fool's Day, 1949, it happened: the long sought after streetlights in Taghmon village were finally switched on. After seven and a half years of waiting, the scratching of Mike Martin's fountain pen had at last been answered. The people of Taghmon rejoiced; the dancing demons in the dark night time corners would be no more; piercing screams of agony would no longer echo down the Castle Alley, around the Green Gardens, or along the length of Mahoney's Row. The sickening thud of falling bodies would be silenced forever. Nocturnal visitors would wave to each other and call out cheerful words of greeting from across the lighted streets. The delightful melody of happy laughing voices would be a joy to hear; the evil menace of being crippled for life would be over; the nightmarish eerie monsters of the unlit streets would soon be only a memory. Darkness had been dealt a dazzling blow - the future was bright . . .well, at least, promising. . .

Street Lighting: E.S.B. officials completed the installation of the public lights during the week and it is expected they will be switched on this Friday (See above). The light will be welcomed by the residents, who hope that an early effort to complete the sewerage system will be made (It would take until 1961) to satisfy their long continued demand for modern amenities in the village. Free Press 2nd Apr. 1949

And Four Months Later

Radio Reception: A protest is being sent from Taghmon to the Minister for Post and Telegraphs regarding interference with radio reception. Free Press 30th July 1949
. . .And so the lobbying continued, through one medium or another, down through the years, and, to date, an amazing amount of positive achievement has been attained; and, as the man said, 'If you want to see my monument, look around you.'

THE RURAL SCENE
Ballyhurst

We dug the deep holes and hoisted the long poles,
And dragged out the grey wire across the land;
There were swans and swallows flyin' o'er the hollows,
And air break switches down close at hand.

The Realisation of a Vision

As stated earlier, the consuming ambition of Tom McLoughlin was to supply electric power to every home in every corner of rural Ireland. All through the 1930s, even when the E.S.B.'s focus was concentrated solely on urban centres, both big and small, this burning zeal never left him. Even after the outbreak of the war, in 1939, when seemingly insurmountable problems were looming ahead, he still cradled his treasured objective. In a wide ranging lecture to the Institute of Engineers, in March, 1940, McLoughlin reviewed the progress of the previous decade but then turned his attention to the mass of the population to whom electricity supply is not as yet available . . .those living in the truly rural areas and mainly engaged in agricultural production. They are the section of the population from which comes the social evil of the flight from the land, an evil which is a great source of worry to our community. McLoughlin saw rural electrification, which represented the application of modern science and engineering, as one of the key ways of raising the standard of rural living and getting to the root of this social evil. But there were snags. A war was raging in Europe, which would make it next to impossible to acquire the vast amount of equipment needed for such a huge venture. Also, the expenditure involved in the building of supply lines, over mountain and bog, to remote rural areas, would be so astronomical as to render it an uneconomical venture. Unless substantial government sponsorship was forthcoming, a viable charge per unit would be out of reach of all but a few. Finally, after much to-ing and fro-ing, the government agreed to a 50 per cent sponsorship, and the way was now clear for McLoughlin and the E.S.B. to draw up plans for the mammoth project ahead.

As stated, the possibility of an immediate start to the programme was out of the question because of the war; but, now that they had got confirmation of what the financial situation would be they could, at least, chart the road ahead with confidence, knowing that as soon as the war was over, and abundant materials were again available, they would be free to embark on the greatest rural revolution in Ireland since the Land Reforms of the 1880s and 1890s.



On Tuesday the 5th of November, 1946, at Kilsallaghan, Oldtown, Co. Dublin, the transformation began. Eleven men, including a photographer, took part in the ceremonial raising of a pole and rural electrification was under way. As the pole was raised in the gathering dusk of that November evening, those present realised that a start was being made on a scheme which was to bring new life to the hills and valleys of rural Ireland, and a new outlook and an a new hope to those who dwelt there.

Even though the E.S.B's revolutionary scheme swept over the countryside, and gained momentum as each new area was completed, there was still an amount of conservatism and ignorance to be overcome. 'It'll burn the house down', or, 'It'll draw lightning', were two oft quoted objections to be heard from troglodytical antagonists.

It was more than thirteen years after that faithful evening in Kilsallaghan, before it finally reached Ballyhurst (as the 23 square miles of area around Taghmon village was known) even though all of the surrounding areas were completed during the early and middle 1950s. This meant that if, in 1955, a resident of Ballyhurst stood at a high vantage point on a dark winter evening, he could watch (with understandable envy) as a circular sweep of winking lights come tantalisingly to life, while he himself was condemned to a cycle of darkness. From the cross of Waddingtown, along the south side of the road to Tullicanna, across the country to the Rock of Carrigbyrne, down the Wexford road to Larkin's Cross, over to the Kingsford and back again to Waddingtown, all was aglow. He could wonder why he was being ignored. Why were all these people being given priority? Why was Bannow (an area which reached as close to Taghmon as Stenning's of Ardinagh) given the power in 1950? Why were Piercestown- Ballycogley-Bridgetown supplied in early 1951, Kilmore-Rathangan 1952/53, Castlebridge 1953, Killurin 1953/54, Galbally 1955, Camross- Adamstown 1955/56, and Foulksmills 1955/56? To find the answer to that question our envious observer would have had to delve a little deeper than posing the question to his next door neighbour. Perhaps the explanation was a preponderance of endemic ignorance.

The Ballyhurst area had been canvassed in late 1958, and out of 308 households visited 135 had refused, 101 had accepted, 14 were doubtful, 52 accepted but were deemed uneconomical and would require special service at extra cost, and 6 were vacant and not seen. Finally, 133 were connected at a cost of £22,000. 801 poles were used in the building of 70km of line. In 1963, during post development, a number of householders who had refused supply in 1958 were connected, along with most of the uneconomical ones. A few remained adamantly entrenched in the nineteenth century, but gradually, they too, were made to see the light. Nowadays, you'd need to know where to look to find a die-hard. But, they are there.



On a dull, drizzly afternoon in December, 1959, at Poulmarle, Taghmon, eight men stood, ankle deep, in a muddy field, their shoulders and hands covered in creosote. They had just, unceremoniously, erected the first of the 801 poles needed to bring the electric current to the Ballyhurst area. During the next few weeks they advanced through, Forrest, Cloghulatagh, Mulmintra, Modubeg, Kilgarvan, Camross, and on to Willy Kelly's field in Ballyvergin. There they met with an existing line, which came down from Adamstown and Clonroche. This 6.4km line of nine meter poles was designed to carry three steel core aluminium cables, capable of taking ten kilovolts of electricity and, when fitted, would link up the Barntown-Bannow line with the New Ross-Enniscorthy line. The eight men present at that historic event were, Ned McDonald, Newcastle Lane, Newbawn (R.I.P.), Ned 'Sash' McDonald, Hill of the Barracks, Newbawn (R.I.P.), Ned McDonald, Ballinamona Lane, Newbawn (R.I.P.), Martin Whelan, Shanoule (R.I.P.), Matty Cullen, Green Road, Little Cullenstown (R.I.P.), Bill Fitzpatrick, Coolaw, Taghmon (R.I.P.) Eamon McDonald, Hill of the Barracks, Newbawn and Jimmy O'Brien, (chargehand) Bree.

By mid April 1960, the task was completed. A spider's web of vibrant wire had, almost overnight, changed the lives of the Ballyhurst residents forever.

THE SHANNON SCHEME

Oh, were I Homer that ancient roamer,
I'd write a poem on a noble theme;
I'd sing the story and chant the glory
Of that wondrous project, The Shannon Scheme.

In Ballinavally mid oak and sally
I sat me down and I dreamed a dream,
Of more employment and more enjoyment
And happier homes through The Shannon Scheme.

From old Clonlara to distant Tara,
The power will gush in a splendid stream;
From high Tountinna to Loughlaninna
All, all are linked with The Shannon Scheme.

From the farmer's backdoors 'twill start the tractors,
And make their holdings a paying game;
Their land will drain, sir, and hill and plain, sir
Will smile with grain, sir, through The Shannon Scheme.

'Twill light our houses, 'twill stitch our blouses;
'Twill milk our cows and 'twill churn the cream;
'Twill plough and sow, sir, 'twill reap and mow, sir
And raise our dough, sir, The Shannon Scheme.

On boats and barges as wide and large as
The Grecian Argo, that ship of fame;
From famed Portroe, sir, and Killaloe, sir
The slates will come by The Shannon Scheme.

So fill your glasses my lads and lasses
All creeds and classes of Irish name;
And toast the Statesmen, those wise and great men,
Who boldly tackled The Shannon Scheme.
James Hughes

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The People
The Free Press.

The ESB museum, Dublin, who supplied me with all the data and who were ever-ready to assist.
The staff of the County Library, Wexford, who stood on their heads for me.
My daughter, Margaret, for permission to quote from some of her school essays.
The late James Hughes, Wicklow, who wrote 'The Shannon Scheme'.
Paddy Murphy, Coolcull, Taghmon
Denny Noonan, Enniscorthy.
Joe Kelly, New Ross.
Johnny Ennis, Harristown.
Nuala Carroll, Taghmon.