Clare County Library
Clare History

The Building of the Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme:
Outline of the Scheme

The Shannon Scheme was initiated by a young engineer, Thomas MacLaughlin, then working for the German engineering firm of Siemens Schukert, in Berlin. He persuaded the Irish government to construct a single hydroelectric station at Ardnacrusha which would power a national electric grid, and enable rural electrification. The contract for the entire work was given to Siemens Schukert. The Shannon was to be diverted, via a head-race canal, to Ardnacrusha, where the necessary fall of water, needed to drive the turbines, would be created.
Plan of the Shannon Scheme

The scheme involved the construction of a weir and intake near Parteen Villa, head- and tail-race canals spanned by four bridges, and the power station itself. In order to complete the scheme within the specified contract time of three and a half years, a vast array of plant and machinery was employed during the construction work. Ships from Germany began to crowd the docks at Limerick, pouring out large quantities of material and machinery which had to be conveyed to the site. A standard gauge railway link, from Longpavement in Limerick city to Ardnacrusha, was constructed. Virtually all equipment - some 30,000 tons - used in the construction work was imported through Limerick docks, transported to Longpavement and then conveyed to the site.

The Building of the Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme