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Preliminary Works

 

One of the first works undertaken was the construction of a temporary power station to provide power for the plant and equipment. Nine large diesel generators with an output of over 4,000 horse-power were installed.
Temporary Power Station
Temporary Power Station
The power station also generated electricity for the large engineering shop which was equipped with all the necessary machine tools. A smithy, a joiner’s department, tool making and welding sections and stores were also erected.
Interior of mechanical workshop
Interior of mechanical workshop

During the course of the works huge quantities of material had to be excavated, all of which was re-used during the construction work. The excavated rock was taken to one of the stone-crushing plants – at O’Brien’s Bridge, Clonlara or Ardnacrusha – where it was crushed, graded and washed. The plant at Ardnacrusha was capable of producing 50 cubic meters of material per hour.

Ardnacrusha crushing and washing plant with inclined lifts
Ardnacrusha crushing and washing plant with inclined lifts

The Workmen

The preliminary works also included the erection of camps for the workmen at Ardnacrusha, Clonlara and O’Brien’s Bridge. The Ardnacrusha camp was the largest and included living quarters for 750 men, a dining room to seat 600, with kitchen, canteen and a general store. Most of the large huts contained three rooms, each of which could accommodate 30 men.

Exterior of workmen's hut at Ardnacrusha
Exterior of workmen's hut at Ardnacrusha
All workmen’s huts were fitted with electric light and were heated during the winter. Most of the engineers and skilled workers were German, and many of them brought their families to live with them. Over the four years of construction there was considerable employment, with 5,000 men working at the height of the scheme. The great majority were Irish, drawn from virtually every large town in the country.
Interior of workmen's hut
Interior of workmen's hut