More Power To you

The original Dublin power station...

By: John Mahon

Visitors arriving into Dublin Port by ferry can clearly see a building that life long Dub’s would be forgiven for not knowing existed at all. 

Hidden in the shadows behind the iconic red and white ESB chimneys in Poolbeg is the original Dublin City power station. 

An imposing red brick structure built in 1903 to serve the exploding demand for electricity in the city, it served faithfully until the ESB commissioned a more modern power plant in the 1960’s, keeping on the original power station on as a back up until they finally abandoned it for good in 1975.  

These days it looks like a film set for Peaky Blinders and indeed it was the backdrop for Matthew McConaughey/Christian Bale flop 'Reign of Fire' in 2002.  With no upkeep or maintenance, nature has had its way for 4 decades creating a haunting, atmospheric ruin at the end of the Pigeon House Road.  

We’ve been telling ourselves for years we would come up with some hair brained scheme to get in past the railings where it’s been teasing us for years.  Thankfully, photographer Steve O’Connor had the scheme handed to him, being invited to take photos for an article on derelict spaces by Roisin Agnew which originally appeared in Totally Dublin magazine. 

Steve’s photos don’t disappoint.  It's exactly as you’d hope it would be; girders and glass, dials and gauges long since frozen, cathedral like turbine halls begging for something to be done with them.

We asked Steve about his experience and this is what he had to say:


The building itself is HUGE. I didn't really know what to expect when we got out there having never been there before but it's an amazing piece of industrial architecture.

We were shown around by Charles Duggan, DCC's Heritage Officer. The red brick is amazing. There's massive iron hoppers all along the top where coal would have been fed into the furnaces.

Much of the interior was off limits to us as it's deemed dangerous.  We were allowed into what must have been the control area where there were the ghosts of control panels and various dials and meters, but most have been removed. 

The site is in limbo at the moment as it is too expensive to either renovate or demolish. There have been artists residencies that have used the space as inspiration over the years. Mr. Duggan would like it to become a public space of some sort. I agree.

In an ideal world the space could be made safe and roofed so it could be used, even if only as a pop up, as a performance space or large gallery space like the turbine room at the TATE.  Better again it could become a creative hub for large scale works and creative studios.


It is a tantalising space for any number of events, even as a backdrop and we hope to see some future happenings out there.

See more of Steve's work at

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