New book recalls how Tipperary man used rural electrification to spread hurling into the West

The story of how a Tipperary man helped spread hurling around Connacht features prominently in a unique book of memories of the roll-out of the Rural Electrification Scheme across the country 70 years ago this month.

Then There Was Light is a collection of tales of the time when Ireland left the dark ages as the ESB brought electricity to even the most remote communities in the largest ever undertaking by the fledgling independent nation.

New book recalls how Tipperary man used rural electrification to spread hurling into the WestSeán Mac Fearghail tells how Tim Slevin from Lorrha in Tipperary – a clubman of the legendary Team of the Millennium goalkeeper Tony Reddan – arrived in Leitrim as part of the Rural Electrification Scheme that came to direct the installation of power and electricity into the smallholdings on the western front.

Joining Tim on this hurling mission was a great Waterford player and fellow ESB official, Barry Ormond, who alongside Slevin oversaw the installation of power into farms across Connacht.

Having won Senior Hurling medals in Mayo while based there, they were then transferred to Leitrim.

From the moment they set foot inside the county, their influence on the spread and development of hurling was enormous – they arguably left the biggest GAA hurling legacy of all to the people of Leitrim and Connacht.

This book, co-edited by PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney, contains scores of stories celebrating the 70th anniversary of the scheme that eventually wound up in the late 1970s.

The stories for this collection come from eyewitnesses, ESB employees and the general public as they recall the suspicions, worries and welcome the scheme faced during arguably the most important rural Ireland undertaking in our history.

They are diverse in subject matter and geographical spread and encapsulate the pioneering work carried out on what became a rapidly changing rural landscape.


Then There Was Light – Stories behind the installation of Ireland’s Rural Electrification scheme. Co-edited by PJ Cunningham and Dr Joe Kearney (Ballpoint Press 2016) (€14.99)

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