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Community loan for Bord na Móna

It would be impossible to tell the story of modern Ireland without reference to its wealth of peatbogs. While an abundance of natural resources drove development elsewhere in Europe, here the ancient bogs were pressed into service and harnessed as a key energy source for the emerging nation.

The new power network established by the ESB and Bord na Mona operated as a form of economic and social infrastructure: generating energy to fuel grow thand creating new opportunities in towns and villages with few other employment outlets. Oweninny peat works opened in 1951, with the nearby power station in Bellacorick starting up in 1962. It was the ESB’s third ‘milledpeat’ station and the first of its kind west of the Shannon. Over the intervening years–until closure in 2004–more than 5000 people worked on this power generation operation in north Mayo, making it the single most significant employer in the region.

Over the years there was hardly a family in the wider Crossmolina area that did not have some form of contact with Oweninny and Bellacorick, often through successive generations. And this created a rich tapestry of local, social history that some feared could be lost forever when the operation closed. In 2009, a group of former employees devised the idea of compiling a book to trace the history and tells the story of the Oweninny power generation operation, with a particular focus on recording the many stories of those who worked there.
Over time they hope the project can lead to a museum and wider commemorative initiative, in the area. The project received backing from the ESB and local authorities and was also supported by Clann Credo , as the recorded history of the operation will make a major contribution to the social and cultural life of the wider region.

Location: Bellacorick, Co. Mayo