Carnsore Point in Wexford is an excellent location to illustrate the past shared history Ireland and Wales have regarding wind generated power, and how the history of the generation of electricity has often been fraught.
Windmill technology came with the Earl of Pembrokeshire and his Anglo-Norman invaders. There is evidence of water and animal powered mills earlier than his arrival but no windmills. The oldest recorded windmill was in Old Ross Wexford, dated around 1281. There are possible remains around the country of other windmills but there is a clear and notable confluence of this type of mill in Wexford in particular. There is an excellent example remaining of a 19th century example grain mill in Tamcumshane. The technology within the mill is older than the mill itself having been refitted with the equipment from another local mill which had come down in ‘the big wind’ (1839). It has two, four-foot millstones of Leinster granite and was in operation until well into the 20th century, grinding grain farmed locally. It is in excellent condition as it is in the care of the OPW and can be visited by the public (and then you can have lunch in the pub next door).
The landscape in which the Tamcumshane Windmill sits could look very different today. In the late 1970s, there was a proposal to build a nuclear power plant on the point. The then EEC were contributing to the expected 300-600million pound cost. In 1978 a festival in protest was organised by local people who objected strenuously (along with many others) to the proposed plant. The event itself seems to have been a successful festival of ideas, and ultimately, they were successful in their goals as there is no nuclear plant.
All of five of our ports are looking to play important roles in the generation of off-shore wind energy. The coastline and seabed in and around the Irish Sea has areas especially suited for wind turbines, and while very successful locations are already in place, e.g. the Arklow Bank on the Irish side, and around Holyhead on the Welsh. There is a great deal of work and research being put in to growing those locations and creating new banks.
These locations are not without their own controversies and objections. Very often the conditions best suited for energy production are also the same that make places especially favourable for nature and so there is a conflict that requires careful consideration and a balanced approach. We can look to Carnsore point where the Richfield onshore Windfarm is located within eyesight of Tamcumshane Mill and Carnsore Windfarm is within walking distance of the mill on the north side of the point. Both windfarms are peacefully generating renewable energy in a very beautiful spot, that has been generating power for its community for nearly two centuries.