New Exhibition: Electric Generations

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I’m very excited to be working on a new exhibition with my wonderful colleagues, Owen Davies and Ceri Houlbrook, from the University of Hertfordshire, and Deirdre McParland from ESB. Electric Generations: The Story of Electricity in Irish Homes grew, in part, out of the ‘New Technologies’ section of my Modern Wife, Modern Life exhibition.

However, Electric Generations isn’t just concerned with how electricity transformed domestic life in 1960s Ireland. Rather, it shows how the reception and understanding of electricity by different generations varied across the twentieth century, reflecting the shift from an unfamiliar power to a fundamental feature of everyday life. The exhibition begins by exploring how people initially feared that this new power could be harnessed to cause harm to neighbours and enemies. The next section focuses on the campaign for popular acceptance of domestic electricity. The final section illustrates how the electrical home was marketed as desirable and empowering for women. This story of the electrical transformation of Ireland is illustrated through inter-generational responses and the experiences of the diaspora in Britain, offering visitors an insight into the similarities and differences in the timelines of electric innovations and consumption in both countries.

Electric Generations will open at dlr LexIcon in October 2017, and subsequently visit the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester in spring 2018. It is generously funded by the University of Hertfordshire.

The Electric Generations image is courtesy of ESB Archives.

Find Out More

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Published by Dr Ciara Meehan

I am Head of History and Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire. I am the author of 'The Cosgrave Party: a History of Cumann na nGaedheal, 1923-1933' (Royal Irish Academy, 2010) and 'A Just Society for Ireland? 1964-1987' (Palgrave, 2013). I also co-edited 'A Formative Decade: Ireland in the 1920s' (Irish Academic Press, 2015) and 'Perceptions of Pregnancy from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century' (Palgrave, 2017).

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