Interview: Ger Sweeney (Raidió Luimní, City Centre Radio, Hits 954, Coast 103)

John ‘The Man’ Frawley of Raidió Luimní. Image courtesy of Eddie Bohan.

We’ve covered the Limerick pirate scene regularly in this archive and there’s no doubt that despite its size, Limerick punched above its weight in radio terms during the pirate era. We’re delighted to bring you an interview with Ger Sweeney who worked in many of the city’s stations from the early 1980s.

Programme schedule from 1984 for Raidió Luimní. Image courtesy of Ger Sweeney.

Ger began broadcasting when only 13 years old on Raidió Luimní run by the popular character John ‘The Man’ Frawley from 1978 to 1988. Raidió Luimní was a community station with a difference featuring local characters, death notices and all sorts of eclectic programming.

Ger Sweeney in CCR in 1985 or 1986. Image courtesy of Ger Sweeney.

Ger moved to City Centre Radio (CCR) in 1985 where production standards were higher and the emphasis was on pop music. He switched to Hits 954 in 1987, a slicker station featuring many former Radio Caroline presenters. His final stint with pirate radio was with Coast 103 in Galway up to the closedown at the end of 1988. The interviewer is John Walsh.

Ger in Hits 954 in 1987 or 1988. Image courtesy of Ger Sweeney.

Ger went on to work in licensed local stations Clare FM and Radio Limerick One. You can hear a documentary about the Limerick pirates here and another interview about Limerick pirate history here.

Interview: Dave Reddy (Radio Sandymount)

In this interview, Dave Reddy recalls his involvement in ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin) and Radio 257 at the end of the 1970s. Dave would go to to establish what would today be called ‘pop-up’ community stations, starting with Radio Sandymount in 1984.

Radio Sandymount went on air as part of a community festival in that area and Dave Reddy explains that the model was soon to be requested by community groups elsewhere, leading to similar short-term stations in Ringsend, Donnybrook and Wicklow. Dave was also founder of the first Christmas station Radio Snowflake, which is now run by David Baker who himself broadcast on the 1980s pop-up stations and many other pirates.

The interviewer is Eolann Aitken. You can listen to a recording of Radio Donnybrook here.

Interview: Kildare pirates

Despite its proximity to Dublin, Kildare had its own pirate stations down the years, including Radio Cill Dara (Naas) and KLB Community Radio (Newbridge). In this interview, Liam Kett and Anthony McAllister recall their involvement in both stations as well as a stint spent at Radio Dublin.

Radio Cill Dara broadcast from 1978-1983 on AM only (270m/1107 kHz). KLB was on air from 1983-1988 and broadcast on both AM (1224 kHz) and FM.

Liam and Anthony recall in the early years that there were fall-back transmitters and premises across the county in the case of raids. They also tell us that high-profile current RTÉ broadcasters Ray D’Arcy and Ronan Collins both cut their teeth in the Kildare stations. Liam Kett is now a presenter on the local Kildare station KFM. The interviewer is Eolann Aitken.

Interview: Paul Kelly (Radio Clare, Radio Munster, Hits 954)

The corner of Parnell Street and Shannon Street in Limerick. One of the bigger Limerick pirates of the 1980s, City Centre Radio (CCR), was located in the yellow building.

In this interview, Paul Kelly remembers working as a presenter on pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick in 1987 and 1988. He began at Radio Clare in Ennis in 1987 and recalls the very basic studio and transmitter set-up before better equipment was installed with the assistance of Big L in Limerick. Paul then moved on to Limerick city stations Radio Munster and the more formatted Hits 954. He also discusses the bandscans that he did in Limerick in the final weeks and days of the pirates in December 1988. The interviewer is Mary Ryan.

Interview: Ken Murray (LRD, Boyneside Radio, Radio Leinster)

The former site of Boyneside Radio in Mill Lane, Drogheda

In this interview, journalist Ken Murray recalls his memories of pirate radio in Louth and Dublin in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1979, he began working with Local Radio Drogheda which evolved into Boyneside Radio.

While in Drogheda, Ken set up ‘The Green Scene’ which is now the longest running programme on Irish commercial radio, presented on LMFM by Eddie Caffrey. Ken then moved to the Dublin station Radio Leinster which closed down suddenly in 1983 during the period of raids against the larger stations Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova. He went on to work as a journalist for RTÉ, LMFM and Independent Radio News and is now editor of EC Radio Ireland. Ken is interviewed by Mary Ryan.

Eddie Caffrey was himself a leading figure in the Louth pirates of the 1970s and 1980s. Listen here to him in a panel about the Louth pirates and here to an individual interview about his involvement in shortwave pirates.

Interview: Declan Meehan (part 2: 1982-1989)

Declan Meehan and John Walsh at East Coast FM in Bray where Declan has worked since 1994.

In the second part of our extended interview, long-time broadcaster Declan Meehan discusses his move from Sunshine to Radio Nova in 1982 which was by then the biggest station in Dublin. He tells us how Chris Cary copied the sound of KIIS FM in Los Angeles to bring a new broadcasting style to Ireland. Despite his love for Radio Nova, Declan left the station because of the bitter NUJ strike in 1984. Although he moved into licensed radio in the UK and Ireland after that, Declan’s involvement with the pirates didn’t quite end there. The interview concludes with Declan’s thoughts on the pirate legacy and his views on the state of radio today.

You can hear the first part of this interview here.

Interview: Declan Meehan (part 1: 1970-1982)

Declan Meehan and John Walsh at the studios of East Coast FM in Bray, where Declan has worked since 1994.

We met one of Ireland’s most experienced broadcasters Declan Meehan recently to discuss his significant contribution to Irish pirate radio history and Irish radio in general over the past 50 years.

In the first part of a long interview, Declan discusses the early years of his involvement in the Dublin pirate scene spanning small stations such as Radio Vanessa and Radio Milinda and larger, more professional operations like ARD. He describes his unhappy move to the new RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979 and how he went on to work for the first of the superpirates, Sunshine Radio, where he met Chris Cary.

The interview includes references to many of the best-known names in Irish radio over the past half-century.

Interview: Gareth O’Connor (KITS)

Gareth O’Connor in the KITS studio in 1988. Thanks to Gareth for the photo.

We interview journalist Gareth O’Connor about his memories of KITS (837 AM and 101 FM) in Monaghan Town in 1987 and 1988. KITS came on the air towards the end of the pirate era and, like other border stations, gained listeners and advertisers both north and south. Gareth tells us about how he became interested in radio and how a decisive Christmas Day phone call launched his broadcasting career. He also pays tribute to station owner the late Frank McCarthy and discusses the impact of the pirates on Monaghan and further afield.

Gareth went on to work as a journalist with many broadcasters including Northern Sound, Century Radio, RTÉ, 98FM, Today FM, East Coast FM, LMFM and Radio Nova. He has also contributed to temporary station Walk in My Shoes Radio and is a regular on Christmas FM. Gareth currently works as an Executive Producer at Virgin Media Ireland.

You can listen to KITS jingles here.

Interview: Ian Biggar (part 2: ERI, Zee 103)

John Walsh interviewing Ian Biggar

Here is the second part of our interview with one-time broadcaster and long-time Irish pirate radio enthusiast Ian Biggar, recorded at his home in Harrogate in England.

In this part, Ian remembers his involvement with ERI in Cork and Zee 103 in Omeath, Co. Louth in the 1980s. He also tells us how he recorded thousands of hours of Irish pirates over the past 40 years and gives his views on the radio scene today.

Interview: Ian Biggar (part 1: Boyneside Radio, Radio Carousel)

We met one time broadcaster and long time enthusiast of Irish pirate radio Ian Biggar in Harrogate recently to discuss his love of the medium and his involvement in Irish stations.

John Walsh interviewing Ian Biggar

In the first part of a long interview, Ian talks about how he first got into pirate radio while still a child in Scotland. He then describes how he discovered the Irish scene and went on to work in the Co. Louth stations Boyneside Radio and Radio Carousel.

Doing some MW DXing with the help of a loop

Ian recorded thousands of hours of valuable Irish pirate radio and has contributed significantly to the DX Archive site. We’re very grateful to Ian for his time and hospitality during our visit to Harrogate and for his life-long dedication to preserving Irish pirate radio memories.