The Shannon Scheme was a foundational project for the country, in both literal and figurative senses – it created an important part of the infrastructure of the Irish Free State, but it also played a significant role as a symbol of independence. It demonstrated what the new state was capable of, and in a time of nation building, asserted the importance of the practical and pragmatic to the new government, as well as its links to tradition and the Gaelic past.
The power station was constructed by two branches of the German engineering giant, Siemens. Irish engineer Thomas McLaughlin, who trained at University College Dublin, had spent the early 1920s working for Siemens in Pomerania (now part of Poland) and his proposal to use the drop from Lough Derg to the mouth of the Shannon to power a hydro-electric generation station was taken up by the government. This was not without opposition at the time, but the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Patrick McGilligan, was tenacious in his support of the project and the need to provide not just enough electricity for Dublin, but for the whole country.