Shannonbridge chimneys go out with a bang

Sat, Jul 25, 2009, 01:00

FAMILIAR LANDMARKS on the banks of the Shannon disappeared in a pile of rubble yesterday when the ESB demolished the two chimney stacks at their old power plant in Shannonbridge, Co Offaly.

So great is the gap on the skyline that one onlooker, former ESB worker Derry Killeen, wondered whether people on hired cruisers on the river might lose their bearings, as the stacks had been visible for many miles.

He suggested that a flag might have to be put up instead for confused navigators.

He regretted the demolition. “I’m sorry to see it. I think it could have been put to better use than knocking it,” he commented.

Mr Killeen, who worked at the plant for over 40 years, had hoped the larger chimney stack could have been used as an observation platform for tourists.

German spectator Josef Weyergans worked at the facility between 1971 and 1977, and said his visit to Shannonbridge was tinged with sadness.

Mr Weyergans, who had worked on the boilers at Shannonbridge, happened to be visiting friends in Athlone when he was told about the planned demolition.

He hadn’t seen the chimney stacks in over 30 years and it was only by chance that he was visiting Ireland with his wife when the demolition was announced.

Mr Weyergans said he was sorry to see the destruction of the remainder of the old plant.

Shannonbridge resident Olive Costello said: “I’m very sad. It was our landmark, it could be seen for miles and was the one place you could spot for 20 miles.”

British demolition experts Robinson and Birdsell Ltd spent two weeks preparing the two chimneys for demolition. The taller stack measured 300ft (91m) while the shorter chimney measured 130ft (40m).

The towers had featured prominently in the background in the midlands-based Pure Mule television series.

The Irish Aviation Authority had issued a warning for pilots to avoid flying in the area between 9am and 11am as “a large dust cloud may form post-demolition”.