THE Cusack family has enjoyed a long association with Ardnacrusha Power Station and the Shannon Scheme.
This was graphically illustrated when the ESB presented John Cusack with a framed photograph of the power station, marking his working life of 50 years when he celebrated his 90th birthday.
The inscription on the photograph chronicled the fact John worked with Siemens-Schuckert from 1926 until 1977.
In 1912, John Cusack was born in Parteen village and started work in the Shannon Scheme as a messenger boy at the age of 13 and also worked as a labourer before he got a job in the power station.
The schoolmaster at Parteen National School allowed him to leave national school to start his new working life.
At the time, John was living across the road from Parteen School and his cousin, Patsy Keegan told him there was a job opportunity going on the Shannon Scheme.
John used to collect time sheets from German employees and bring them to the relevant supervisor.
John completed a lot of roles until his retirement at the age of 65 in 1977, including hall porter directing visitors to meet employees in different offices.
Every second Sunday during the summer, he provided visitors with a guided tour of the power station.
Having grown up with the Shannon Scheme, learning the details about the history of the power station was relatively easy for him.
His final posting was working as a security man on the barrier restricting access to the entrance of the station, which he fulfilled for about a decade.
John was married to Pauline Curran from Lisnagry and they had three sons, Noel, Terry and Seán.
Noel said his father enjoyed working in the station and recalled there weren’t many job opportunities in the locality when he started off first.
“When we were young we often called into see him at the station. He would show us around some parts of the station and have a few words if he wasn’t too busy.”
With only six months work available in Ardnacrusha in the ‘40s, John moved to Birmingham during the Second World War when the Germans were dropping bombs throughout the United Kingdom.
Interestingly, having worked with Germans on the Shannon Scheme, he worked in a Ford factory making cars that were to be used on the war front against the Germans.
John moved to Clonoughter, Clonlara, in the early ‘50s where he remained until his death in February 2006.
Noel Cusack worked in the power station from 1971 to ‘76. Starting off as an electrical apprentice, Noel subsequently qualified as an electrician, worked in different jobs including a stint in Shannon, as a self-employer electrician on his own and has spent the last 20 years working with Limerick Blow Moulding, Parteen.
“Ardnacrusha Power Station was a good place to work and there were good fellas around you. There was good banter and camaraderie at the station,” said Noel.
“I built up a lot of contacts from working at the station.
“Working in the power station helped me gained employment elsewhere.”
While there was some scepticism when the power station was first built, Noel said it has stood the test of time and was a major civil engineering construction back in the ‘20s.
His brother, Seán also served his time working as an apprentice electrician with the ESB in Rosbrien, Limerick, and has completed some temporary work in Ardnacrusha.
Terry Cusack (64) started as a temporary casual worker in May 1977 when he was 20 years of age before he was appointed as a full time role delivering messages and maintenance work in September 1981.
He enjoys working in the station from 9am to 4.30pm with 30 minutes for lunch five days a week.
“I know all the lads working in the station from going to the canteen at tea break and lunch break.
I have made a lot of friends over the last 44 years.
“My father, John started as a messenger boy on the Shannon Scheme and now I do the same job in Ardnacrusha Power Station, which was the first power station built in Ireland.”
A few months before John’s retirement, Terry worked with him in the station.
Terry said the number of casual workers has dropped from about 60 to about 16 since he started.
Some of his work colleagues have died in recent times including Seamus Ryan, Tommy Sparling, Vincent Gardiner and Colm Lynch.
By Dan Danaher