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Energy Uses


Modern energy supply began as a private or local service of gas and electricity, largely based on coal in the early 20th Century. This grew to become national state-owned utilities, which was later unbundled to facilitate competition in generation and customer choice of supplier. The pattern of energy demand has shifted over the years reflecting economic growth throughout history as well as changing relative costs of different fuels, the perceived security of continued supplies and more recently, environmental considerations.


  • 1684 Rev. John Clayton who later became Dean of Kildare demonstrated production of combustible gas from coal, referred to as the “spirit of the coal”.


  • 1820 The Dublin Gas Company was established by a parliamentary act.
  • 1822 Four gasworks in Ireland, producing gas mainly from coal. The early uses of coal-gas were largely confined to lighting, which replaced candle and oil power for public lighting.
  • 1824 Despite objections to underground pipes on grounds of noxious vapours and water contamination, public street gas lighting was introduced.
  • 1824 By this time there were three gasworks in Dublin; one operating from coal, one from fish-oil and another from turf.


  • 1881 By 1881 there were 114 gasworks operating in Ireland, the majority of which relied on coal for fuel. Gas was predominently used for lighting at this time.


  • 1924 The output of gas had almost doubled from around 18,000 to 35,000 Gigajoules since 1904 because of urban development and expansion.
  • 1925 By this time hydro, coal, peat, gas and wind power were all being utilised in one form or another to generate electricity.
  • 1927 The ESB (Electricity Supply Board) is established to provide a safe, reliable and economic supply of electricity to the community under the Electricity Supply Bill.


  • 1939 World War II (1939-1945). Widespread rationing and shortage of fuel for industrial, domestic and transport use. Stoppages of coal for domestic use led to an immediate consumption of gas. Soon even gas was only available at reduced amounts for fixed hours of suply.
  • 1939 New emergency orders made it a punishable offence to use gas in ‘off hours’ or to refuse entry to an authorised officer of the Dublin gas company (the glimmer man).


  • 1950 World prices of oil had fallen after the war to a point where it became competitive with coal for gas manufacture and power generation.
  • 1950 High coal prices meant that those gas companies which had survived the hardships of the war moved away from coal carbonisation.
  • 1958 First exclusive licence to explore for oil and gas off Irish waters is granted to the Ambassador Oil Company for a nominal sum since so little was known about the potential for discoveries.


  • 1971 One of the exploration wells belonging to Marathon struck gas 27 miles off the old head of Kinsale. The total gas reserves of the Kinsale gas field at mid-80s price were valued at £6 billion.
  • 1976 Kinsale gas is landed five years after discovery. The major users of the gas initially was a new fertiliser works at Marino Point and, some years later, the power station at Aghada, both located on Cork Harbour.
  • 1976 Bord Gáis Eireann was established under the Gas Act of 1976, responsible for of the purchase, sale, transmission and distribution of natural gas throughout Ireland.
  • 1978 Residential and industrial conversion to use of natural gas fueled by Kinsale gas field, first in Cork and then in Dublin.


  • 1982 The conversion of the Cork gas system from town gas to direct use of natural gas commenced.
  • 1982 The natural gas line from Cork to Dublin was completed and became the backbone of the national gas system.
  • 1983 From 1975 to 1985 seventy-three petroleum and gas exploration wells were drilled in Irish waters and ports.


  • 1993 Bord Gáis build the first Irish sub-sea gas interconnector pipeline from Moffat in Southwest Scotland to Loughshinny in North County Dublin.


  • 2000 Decrease in residential energy use since 1987 due in part to the switch from the use of solid fuels in open fires and back boilers to more efficient oil and natural gas central heating.
  • 2001 Ireland’s fuel import dependency reaches 90%, and continues close to this level until 2014.
  • 2002 Second interconnector gas pipeline built from Moffat in Southwest Scotland to Gormanstown in County Meath.


  • 2010 Central heating systems fired by oil and gas in 80% homes in Ireland.
  • 2013 Main sources of heat are oil (44%) and gas (37%).
  • 2015 Corrib gas field delivers its first gas to the Irish grid in December. This will supply up to 60% of Ireland’s gas needs in the initial years of production.