Ophelia: ESB staff brave bee stings to restore power in Limerick

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Receiving a shock is normally ESB staff’s main concern but in this case in west Limerick it was getting stung!

Receiving a shock is normally ESB staff’s main concern but in this case in west Limerick it was getting stung!

ON THE Monday night of Hurricane Ophelia 18,900 families, farms and businesses were without power in the city and county.

Everything from stair-lifts to milking parlours and more simple pleasures like boiling the kettle and watching TV were non-runners. An ESB spokesperson said when the winds abated somewhat on Monday afternoon “all internal resources were deployed in both Limerick city and environs and the county”.

In one instance they even had to wear beekeeper hats to prevent being stung.

“Network technicians had to replace a faulty transformer in a beekeeper’s back garden in west Limerick. The photograph tells the story well of how power was restored to each family, farm and business field by field, pole by pole,” said the spokesperson.

Staff worked into Monday night, through the week from early morning until 10pm /11pm each night until every last connection was restored in the county, he said. 

“This took until Friday evening in County Limerick, and Wednesday evening in Limerick city. Storm Brian struck on Friday night and in early hours of Saturday morning, and caused further damage to the electricity network, with 2,000 customers out in Castletroy. These customers were, however, reconnected during the night,” said the spokesperson.

Many Limerick-based crews then moved to some of the worst impacted areas of neighbouring counties – Cashel, Fermoy and Dunmanway. Nationally, 2,500 ESB Networks personnel, 1,000 contractors and 250 staff from utilities based in Northern Ireland, Britain, the Isle of Man and France were deployed in this effort.

The last families in pockets of West Cork and Wexford had their power restored this Tuesday evening.

“ESB Networks wishes to apologise for the obvious inconvenience caused to families in Limerick following Ophelia.

“We wish to also thank them for their forbearance and goodwill towards our crews, who worked tirelessly, and in occasionally difficult weather conditions, until every last family, farm and business in the county was reconnected,” said the spokesperson.

At a Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal area meeting, Cllr Brigid Teefy praised the ESB, council and water services staff, fire brigades and gardai for their sterling efforts during and after Hurricane Ophelia.

She also spoke of the community spirit  shown by people looking after each other and cited farmers sharing generators to ensure cows were milked.