The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD unveiled a plaque in Crossmolina last Friday to commemorate the thousands of employees of both Bord na Mona and ESB who worked at Bellacorick for half a century.
The Minister was in Mayo as part of Heritage Week and unveiled the plaque beside the library in Crossmolina which recognises the contribution the workers and the two companies made to north Mayo.
The ceremony was attended by a huge crowd of former workers and their families along with local public representatives including the Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Austin Francis O’Malley.
Up to 5,000 people are believed to have been employed by both Bord na Mona and ESB since the 1940’s when the bogs around north Mayo were first harvested up until 2007 when the ESB power station at Bellacorick was demolished having been decommissioned some years previously.
Minister Deenihan said he was honoured to be invited to unveil the plaque and spoke about the enormous contribution both, Bord na Mona and ESB, had made to the economic and social life of North Mayo and the contribution the workers had made to the economic development of the country as a whole.
Both companies provided a huge amount of direct and indirect employment to the north Mayo area which was a region traditionally devoid of employment. As well as directly employing local people, the presence of the two companies also resulted in the creation of a number of different companies who also contributed to the area.
The closure of the power station in Bellacorick and the end of harvesting turf on the bogs by Bord na Mona was described as devastating for the region with so many families relying on them for employment.
For those reasons the local community around Crossmolina decided to commemorate both companies and those who worked for them. As well as the unveiling of the plaque, they are also looking to produce a book highlighting the history of the two companies to the region as well as opening a museum and learning centre in Crossmolina in the near future.
Paul Riordan and Nicholas Tarrant, representatives from Bord na Mona and ESB, also attending the unveiling and reiterated their commitment on developing Europe’s largest windfarm in Bellacorick.
The windfarm currently comprises of 21 wind turbines generating 17 million units of electricity each year with plans to increase the number to 180 turbines.
Meanwhile Minister Deenihan also travelled to Ballina last Friday where he was given a guided tour of the Jackie Clarke Collection which comprises of 100,000 historical items from Irish history.
The museum is located in the restored former bank building on Pearse St in Ballina and the Minister was given a tour by Sinéad McCoole, the Curator of the museum. The collection includes a 1916 Proclamation, letters from Roger Casement, Michael Collins, Patrick Pearse and Wolfe Tone maps and newspapers from the 17th century.