Electrification & the Modern Wife

The electrification of rural Ireland began in 1946. There has been a lot of coverage of this process in the last few days. RTÉ Archives shared this link about the ‘Quiet Revolution’, while TheJournal.ie posted this piece about how the social history of Ireland began to change as a result of rural electrification. And then yesterday, RTÉ Radio 1: Documentary on One broadcast ‘Then there was light‘. In the blurb for the doc, it was noted:

Yet electricity met with some resistance from an older generation who were convinced they’d be burnt to death in their beds. Pitted against this fear were women working in the home who understood that electricity eliminated the daily grind of washing clothes in tubs, cooking and baking on open fires.

New Technologies in Modern Wife

Section six of the Modern Wife exhibition explored many of the new technologies that were facilitated by the arrival of piped water and electricity. As  could be seen in this section, magazine advertisements, layouts and features showed electric cookers, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and other gadgets, all supposedly designed to make the housewife’s life easier. These new technologies promised to do the job quicker than the housewife ever could, though how she would spend all her new-found free time was never addressed! Some of the panels from the New Technologies section of the exhibition are reproduced below.

Modern Wife, Modern Life: An Exhibition of Women’s Magazines from 1960s Ireland (Section 6: New Technologies)

Three advertisements for electric mixers:  Top L: Woman's Way, 1 October 1964; Bottom L: Woman's Way, 4 October 1968; Bottom R: Woman's Way, 13 December 1968.
Three advertisements for electric mixers:
Top L: Woman’s Way, 1 October 1964; Bottom L: Woman’s Way, 4 October 1968; Bottom R: Woman’s Way, 13 December 1968.
Two advertisements for ESB Electric Cookers: Top, Woman's Way, May 1966; Bottom, Woman's Choice, February 1969.
Two advertisements for ESB Electric Cookers: Top, Woman’s Way, May 1966; Bottom, Woman’s Choice, February 1969.
Woman's Way, June 1963
Woman’s Way, June 1963
Woman's Way, Christmas 1964
Woman’s Way, Christmas 1964
Woman's Way, April 1966
Woman’s Way, April 1966
Woman's Way, Christmas 1965
Woman’s Way, Christmas 1965
Woman's Way, July 1969
Woman’s Way, July 1969