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ESB Turlough Hill 40th Year Anniversary

Turlough Hill, Ireland’s only pumped Hydro–electric storage system turned 40 years old in 2014. Built over six years between 1968 and 1974, the hydro–generating plant is still today regarded as a massive feat of innovative environmental engineering.

The generating plant and Hydro Control Centre, from where all of the country’s 10 hydro stations are controlled, is housed in a cavern deep in the picturesque Wicklow mountains above Glendalough.

In the 40th anniversary of the plant ESB recognised the potential to reach out not only to the local Wicklow community in which the hydro–plant operates, but also to a wider audience of ESB customers across Ireland. ESB Corporate Communications team partnered with Aiken to develop and deliver a programme of activities to realise the potential of the anniversary.

Statement and Objectives

Aiken and ESB Corporate Communications were tasked with delivering events which would

  • Enhance ESB’s reputation by leveraging the 40th anniversary of Turlough Hill to offer customers a unique opportunity to discover for themselves the groundbreaking technology there
  • Position ESB as a company that is innovative
  • Position ESB as a company that supports local communities both by offering a unqiue experience through the tours and through employment of local guides
  • Create awareness of the impact of ESB’s hydro–stations throughout Ireland
  • Build knowledge and awareness of ESB’s activities through print, broadcast, online and social media

Two key activities were developed:

  1. Free public guided tours of the Turlough Hill plant running weekdays from 3rd June – 26th October 2014 with two open weekends. Interest in the tours outstripped projections with upwards of 20,000 visitors taking the tour over the summer months. It was originally planned to run the tours until the end of September however, due to demand the run was extended into October.
  2. A concert for key stakeholders held in the km long tunnel which leads to the control room. The vision to stage a concert in such a unique venue resulted in a high level of positive RSVPs from a carefully honed guest list. While many may have initially been drawn by the unique setting, the experience on the evening and the quality of the music drew exceptional feedback from stakeholders with personal calls made from the Minister to the Chief Executive of ESB to compliment ESB on the event and Fergus Finlay commenting on it the following day in an unrelated radio interview as well as writing about it, again in an unrelated piece, in the Examiner.

Media Coverage

  • Both the tours and concert received extensive and extended coverage which was 100% positive in tone. 100% of coverage referenced the 40th anniversary and 94% of press coverage included an image of Turlough Hill.
  • Highlights included front cover photograph of the Irish Times for concert and full half page article on tours on page three of Irish Times.
  • The online Irish Times article which included a video of the tour was the 3rd most read article on the day.
  • Irish Independent gave over two full pages to the tours and also covered the concert.
  • Broadcast coverage included RTE Six One news; Countrywide and News2Day. Radio na Gaeltheata, East Coast FM and Radio Life all carried interviews
  • Both Tours and the Concert featured repeatedly on a number of social media platforms and online sites, including tweets from media and stakeholders, Discover Ireland, local politicians which were congratulatory in tone. 
  • Journal.ie carried pre–view and review pieces on the concert that delivered on key messages of innovation and the 40th anniversary.