Full recording: Community Radio Fingal

Full recording: Community Radio Fingal
CRF car sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

Community Radio Fingal (CRF) broadcast from Swords and then Skerries in north Co. Dublin from 1982 to 1988. It began with a 300 watt transmitter but then increased it to 1 kW, and moving from 1584 to 1575 kHz (announced as 189 metres) improved its reception, particularly on the west coast of Britain. Leon Tipler visited CRF in 1982 on one of his visits to Ireland and you can hear an interview with the owner of CRF Brian Matthews here in which he gives information about the station’s history and technical set-up.

Our recording was made from 1575 kHz from 1922-1952 on 1st July 1983, apparently on the west coast of Britain as it sounds like daytime groundwave reception. Des Lee is on the air with music and community notices. He mentions that CRF is broadcasting from the Castle Shopping Centre in Swords, Co. Dublin and also refers to an FM transmitter on 90 MHz. Audio quality deteriorates towards the end as the cassette has degraded with the passage of time.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Full recording: Bray Local Broadcasting

Full recording: Bray Local Broadcasting
BLB car sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) was one of the pioneers in local community broadcasting during the pirate era and was a leading member of the National Association of Community Broadcasters (NACB) which lobbied for licensed community radio. It began broadcasting in 1979 and continued until the closedowns at the end of 1988, making it one of the country’s longest-running pirate stations.

As a community station, BLB prided itself on catering for minority groups and audiences served poorly by mainstream radio, including Irish speakers in its catchment area of north Wicklow and south Dublin. Irish was marginal on pirate radio, particularly among commercial stations, but community radio across the country regularly broadcast programmes in Irish. There were also Irish language pirate stations such as Saor-Raidió Chonamara in the Connemara Gaeltacht in 1970 (which led to the establishment of Raidió na Gaeltachta) and Raidió an Phobail in Dublin in 1979.

Mar stáisiún pobail, chuir BLB roimhe freastal ar ghrúpaí mionlaigh agus daoine nach raibh freastal mar is ceart á dhéanamh orthu ag na stáisiúin mhóra raidió, ina measc cainteoirí Gaeilge i dtuaisceart Chill Mhantáin agus deisceart Bhaile Átha Cliath. Bhí an Ghaeilge imeallach ar an raidió bradach, go háirithe ar na stáisiúin tráchtála, ach craoladh cláracha Gaeilge ar stáisiúin raidió pobail ar fud na tíre. Bhí stáisiúin bhradacha Ghaeilge ann chomh maith, ina measc Saor-Raidió Chonamara i nGaeltacht Chonamara in 1970 (a thug ann do Raidió na Gaeltachta) agus Raidió an Phobail i mBaile Átha Cliath in 1979.

Full recording: Bray Local Broadcasting
9 Prince of Wales Terrace, Quinsboro Road, Bray from where BLB broadcast in its later years. Horizon Radio was also based here (photo by John Walsh).

This is an extract from the final half hour (2030-2100) of one of BLB’s Irish language programmes Timchuairt Bhré (a trip around Bray), presented by Rónán Ó Dubhthaigh on 9th November 1983. Rónán went on to present Irish language programmes on the successor licensed station to BLB, Horizon Radio. John Walsh of Pirate.ie also worked on those programmes. The recording features Irish traditional and folk music and is followed by the station closedown at 2100.

Seo í an leathuair an chloig deireanach (2030-2100) de cheann de chláracha Gaeilge BLB, Timchuairt Bhré, á chur i láthair ag Rónán Ó Dubhthaigh ar 9 Samhain 1983. Lean Rónán air ag cur cláracha Gaeilge i láthair ar Horizon Radio, an stáisiún ceadúnaithe a tháinig i gcomharbacht ar BLB. D’oibrigh John Walsh ó Pirate.ie ar na cláracha sin chomh maith. Ar an taifeadadh seo, cloistear ceol Gaelach agus traidisiúnta agus ina dhiaidh sin dúntar an stáisiún ar 2100.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Full recording: Radio Nova

Full recording: Radio Nova
Sybil Fennell, Declan Meehan and Bob Gallico when Nova closed down officially in May 1983 (photo courtesy of Joe King).

Radio Nova was renowned for many things including its powerful signal, slick formatting and innovative content. Another aspect which drew attention to the station and boosted its audience were the regular cash prizes which were occasionally very generous. On 30th August 1983, Nova gave away £6,000 in cash, a fortune in the cash-strapped times, to Dolores Carney from Trim in Co. Meath. This recording was made from 1857-1930 that evening and features part of the ‘Dublin Today’ talk programme which of course gives prominence to the giveaway, replaying the moment when Dolores heard that she had won and her subsequent interview with Declan Meehan.

The presenter is Sybil Fennell, one of the best known newsreaders on Nova and interestingly, the recording gives an example of how Nova sometimes split its service between AM and FM in order to maximise its audience. On this occasion, ‘Dublin Today’ was broadcast on 828 kHz AM only, while 88 FM carried a rock music show. It’s hard to believe that this was just five months after Nova was raided and shut down by the authorities but by August 1983, Ireland’s biggest pirate station was back with a vengeance.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Interview: John Brady (Radio Ireland International)

Interview: John Brady (Radio Ireland International)
Image from the Radio Ireland International QSL card (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

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.

Interview: John Brady (Radio Ireland International)
1983 letter from Radio Ireland International to Ian Biggar, giving further station information.

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’.

Interview: John Brady (Radio Ireland International)
1983 Radio Ireland International QSL (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

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.

Full recording: Capital Radio International

Full recording: Capital Radio International
A Capital QSL from 1981 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Capital Radio International began broadcasting from Dublin in 1981, one of many shortwave pirates from Ireland during that decade. It broadcast for the most part on 6268 kHz with a strong signal – the QSL above records an output of 180 watts which was well above average for the hobby shortwave stations. Capital Radio sometimes operated from the site of another shortwave pirate Radio Valleri.

Our recording was made from 6268 kHz from 1120-1205 on Sunday 11th August 1985 and features the station operator Aidan Hughes. The signal is indeed strong but over-modulated in places and seems to drift slightly off channel. Capital returned to the air in the early 1990s but came to an end when Aidan Hughes died prematurely.

For more information about the shortwave pirates see the DX Archive and Pirate Memories websites. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.