Radio Ireland International was one of several hobby shortwave stations operating from Ireland in the 1980s, usually on the air on Sunday mornings. The station was set up by two 20 year-olds, John Brady and Tony Healy (Clarke on air), on 1st May 1983 using an output power of 90 watts on 6293 kHz. Programmes were mostly pre-recorded with occasional live shows. Shortwave logs from that period are scant but Radio Ireland was heard relaying Radio Nova by Anoraks UK on 9th December 1984 on 6310 kHz. An address in Glasnevin North was given and a recording from around that time said that the station was broadcasting from near Dublin Airport.
Radio Ireland International was logged again on 6312 kHz on 30th December 1984 and from 1985 on, was a regular on the Irish shortwave scene. An Anoraks Ireland listing from 1986 gave 31 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1 as the address. On 12th April 1987, Anoraks UK reported that the station had closed for ‘personal reasons’.
In this interview, John Brady tells Eolann Aitken about the early days of Radio Ireland International and described how they used a low-powered FM link to avoid being raided. The interview was conducted on 20th October 2018 at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin at a meet-up of people involved in Irish pirate radio over the years.
In the third and final part of our extended interview with Kieran Murray about his radio career, Kieran describes his transition from the pirates to the new licensed stations in 1989. He began at RTÉ’s local radio service for Dublin, Millennium Radio, where he worked as a ‘general assistant’. He then moved to sports news and presentation on the country’s first independent local licensed station, Capital Radio, which became FM104. After more than a decade using his real name, it was during this time that he started calling himself ‘Stereo Steve’ on air.
Kieran then considers the significance of the pirate stations where he spent ten years of his career and concludes by reflecting on the state of radio today. The interviewer is Brian Greene.
In this second part of the interview, Kieran Murray tells Brian Greene about his move from Radio Carousel to its biggest rival, Boyneside Radio, in 1983. Like Carousel, Boyneside had become a regional network and Kieran took over management of its satellite station in Kells, Co. Meath, which had its own opt-out programming.
Kieran also describes his involvement with Radio Rainbow International, a hobby station set up by Boyneside co-owner Eddie Caffrey. Rainbow could be heard far and wide due to its powerful shortwave signal and Kieran presented a weekly FRC programme which attracted correspondence from across Europe. Part 2 ends with Kieran’s memories of returning to Dublin to work for Liberty 104 at the end of the pirate era in 1987-88.
There’s an interview with Eddie Caffrey about Radio Rainbow International here. We’ll bring you recordings of Rainbow at a later stage in our series about the pirates of the northeast.
As part of our ongoing series about the pirate radio of the northeast, we’re delighted to bring you a three-part interview with one of the best known broadcasters on various stations in the region, Kieran Murray. Born in Dublin in 1958, Kieran began his radio career with Radio Dublin before moving on to Big D. The owner of Radio Carousel, Hugh Hardy, arrived at Big D in search of presenters for the new Dundalk station and Kieran Murray was one of those who took up the offer. He was in fact the first voice to be heard on Radio Carousel when it began broadcasting on May 20th 1978. In 1981, Kieran moved to Navan to establish a satellite station of Radio Carousel there and managed the Co. Meath station for some time.
In part 1 of the interview, Kieran describes his early interest in radio and his involvement with Dublin stations before moving to Co. Louth. He pays tribute to Hugh Hardy and shares many memories of the early years of Carousel ranging from the station’s local success to raids by the government and by paramilitaries. The interview also contains technical information about transmission and how the Radio Carousel network operated. The interviewer is Brian Greene.
** Since doing the interview, we can confirm that Kieran in fact first took to the airwaves in 1975 on Capitol Radio in Dublin. He presented a 60-minute programme on a Sunday afternoon, using the name Kenneth Murphy. His brother also presented a programme under the name John Edwards. The transmitter was owned by Chris Barry who lived in Rathmines at the time, not far from Kieran’s home. Kieran remembers that coincidentally, the building next door would become the RTÉ Museum.
The first edition of the FRC newsletter which Kieran produced printed the schedule and information on Capitol. Thanks to Alan Russell for this information and for the copy of the magazine.
The owner and operator of the Radio Carousel network was country music impresario Hugh Hardy from Omeath in Co. Louth. He presented the popular lunchtime Country Call programme which was relayed from Dundalk to the other satellite stations at the height of Carousel’s operations. Hugh lived in Dublin and commuted to Dundalk but in November 1986 he set up KLAS, an easy listening station aimed at the Dublin market, in a garage complex at the back of his home.
Radio Carousel Dundalk closed on Friday 23rd January 1987 after a surprise visit from officials of the Department of Communications who complained about interference to mobiles and directed the station to close down. Carousel left the air the following day at 1pm but its other stations in Navan and at the border continued.
This recording features a renowned interview with Hugh Hardy on the Radio West Anoraks Programme on Sunday 25th January. The weekly show was always unpredictable and relied heavily on rumour and hearsay, as station owner Shaun Coyne openly admitted. The recording opens with a heated argument between Hugh and Shaun with both trading accusations. Hugh then explains the reasons for Carousel Dundalk leaving the air and announces that given the success of KLAS, he is to concentrate on the easy listening station from then on. Both station owners compare notes about their experience of presenters down the years, with Hugh Hardy recounting how one of his newsreaders resigned live on air the previous week. The other presenter Don Allen tries to get a word in from time to time without much success but the interview ends amicably.
Radio Carousel Dundalk would in fact return in mid-February 1987 but by early 1988 both the Dundalk and border stations were in decline, leaving only Radio Carousel Navan. Hugh Hardy did not get involved in the licensed stations after 1989 but developed his video production business instead. He died in 2008.
There is a strong whiff of the drama of 1980s pirate radio in this recording: pirates encroaching on each other’s frequencies, RTÉ ordering pirates to move, stations being forced to close down and rumours circulating about those working in the business. We thank Ian Biggar for sharing this recording.