Jon Richards has been a familiar voice on Galway radio for 35 years and is currently Programme Director of Galway Bay FM. He cut his teeth in the pirates beginning with WLS Music Radio in 1985 before moving in 1987 to County Sound, first in its home base of Tuam, and subsequently in Galway after it moved into the city in 1988.
In this interview, Jon shares his pirate memories of both stations, including transmitters and studio equipment, programme content and the colourful characters on both sides of the microphone. He recalls many near misses, including falling asleep on air during his first shift and missing a vital lift from Galway to Tuam! Jon remembers fondly his overnight shifts in the pirate days and laments the lack of live nighttime programming on radio today. He also consider the pirate legacy and gives his views on the health of the current radio scene.
We thank Jon Richards warmly for his contribution to this archive. You can listen back here to a feature about Pirate.ie on Galway Bay FM.
We’re delighted to bring you an interview with Tom Breen about his memories of the early years of the Galway pirates from 1980-1984. Following the closure of IRG in 1979, Galway relied on small, low-powered pirates such as Claddagh Community Radio (in the Claddagh just west of the city centre) and Tom’s own Radio Ballybane located in the eastern suburb of the same name. He also recalls another short-lived station calling itself Radio Eyre (named after Galway’s Eyre Square), involving Liam Stenson and others formerly involved with Independent Radio Galway. The Connacht Sentinel reported that Radio Eyre came on the air at the beginning of June 1982.
Tom remembers his involvement with West Coast Community Radio (WCCR) which broadcast from March 1982 until July 1983, first from near Cloonacauneen Castle north of Galway and then from a frozen chicken factory in the eastern suburb of Roscam. WCCR was the largest station in Galway since the closure of IRG and became a full-time operation. It received its AM transmitter from a station called WKRC in Newbridge, Co. Kildare and while quite low-powered (80-100 watts), managed to boost its signal to cover the city and beyond. Tom was also one of those who set up Radio Renmore/Renmore Local Radio, which broadcast on very low power on 101 FM from the Renmore area to the east. Thanks to Ian Biggar for additional information.
On the 12th of June 2020, John Walsh spoke to Keith Finnegan of Galway Bay FM about the recent series about Galway pirates on Pirate.ie. The interview includes a rare jingle from Independent Radio Galway (1978-1979), sung by the choir of University College Galway (now the National University of Ireland, Galway). Keith, now CEO of Galway Bay FM, remembers his own involvement in West Coast Community Radio (WCCR). The interview finishes with a montage of jingles and idents from the Pirate.ie series on Galway.
Many of those at Galway Bay FM cut their teeth in the Galway pirates of the era. Licensed in 1989 as Radio West, one group involved in the successful consortium was the original pirate Radio West from Mullingar. The station changed its name to Galway Bay FM in 1993.
We thank Galway Bay FM for their interest in Pirate.ie and hope that the interview will encourage more people in Galway to come forward to memories and recordings.
Community Radio Youghal celebrated the 40th anniversary of its start as a pirate on the 4th of July 2019. The station, one of the pioneers in community radio, began its life in a loft at the farmhouse of Eileen Connolly outside the town, before moving into the centre of Youghal. In this interview one of CRY’s founders, Noel Cronin, tells John Walsh about the station’s origins, its early community programming and outside broadcasts, the transmission set-up on AM and FM and the emotional final broadcast on the 31st of December 1988. Community Radio Youghal returned as a licensed station and continues to broadcast today on 104 FM to Youghal and surrounding areas in east Cork/west Waterford.
You can listen to a documentary about the history of CRY here. This interview with Noel Cronin was first broadcast on Wireless on Flirt FM. Photos are courtesy of Ian Biggar of DX Archive where more information can be found about CRY.
We bring you an interview with Jimmy St. Ledger (Jimmy Howlett) of Premier Radio International, a long-running shortwave pirate station from Ireland. Premier began broadcasting on medium wave in 1976 and went on shortwave soon after. Jimmy’s first transmitter was used to broadcast Radio Cill Dara from Naas. He was also involved with Radio Dublin before the splits of the late 1970s. The interviewer is Eolann Aitken.
Premier continued on and off over the years and was among a small number to return to the air following the closedowns of 1988. It continues to broadcast today on shortwave as a hobby station. Further information is available on its website.