Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 7)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 7)
Part of ‘The Irish Pirates’ from the Leon Tipler Collection (photo by Brian Greene).

Continuing with Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’, we hear more from the Cork radio scene in 1983 and also learn about the Limerick pirates. The hour begins with a visit to the 10 kW South Coast Radio AM transmitter site in Cork in the company of John Lewis. That is followed by a visit to ERI and an interview with veteran broadcaster Don Allen. There is also a rare insight into the earliest days of the Cork pirates in an interview with Con McParland. Tipler then continues to Limerick where he calls into two local stations, Big L and Raidió Luimní. The episode concludes with interviews with Mike Richardson of Big L and the popular John ‘the Man’ Frawley of Raidió Luimní.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 7)
Big L logo, courtesy of DX Archive.

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

Index to Volume 7

00:00 Visit to South Coast Radio TX site
09:11 Visit to ERI studios
16:30 Interview with Don Allen
25:00 ERI heard in UK
26:10 John Lewis on South Coast Radio
27:45 Interview with Con McParland of Radio Sundown
30:00 Visit to Limerick
30:50 Raidió Luimní
33:00 Big L
35:00 Visit to Big L
36:50 Interview with Mike Richardson
44:05 John ‘the Man’ Frawley on Raidió Luimní
46:06 Visit to Raidió Luimní
49:00 Interview with John ‘the Man’ Frawley

Full recording: Raidió Luimní (Limerick)

Full recording: Raidió Luimní (Limerick)
1988 clipping from the Limerick Leader about John ‘the Man’ Frawley, courtesy of Eddie Bohan

One of the longest-serving pirates in the country from 1978 to 1988, Raidió Luimní had many loyal listeners in its core area of Limerick, Clare and Tipperary due largely to the unique broadcasting style of its owner the late John ‘the Man’ Frawley. After installing a new AM transmitter on 1125 kHz in 1985, the signal could be heard further afield, adding to the station’s listenership and Frawley’s popularity.

Here’s another recording of John ‘the Man’ from the 5th and 6th of November 1984 featuring his quirky mixture of gossip, news and music which was unrivalled on Irish radio at the time or arguably since. In the first part of the recording, Frawley lends his support to the local campaign against the water tax in advance of a court case on November 6th. He attempted to enter politics himself, standing in the 1981 and February 1982 elections but polling poorly despite his popularity as a broadcaster.

The recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. You can hear more of the Limerick pirates here.

Full recording: Raidió Luimní (Limerick)

Full recording: Raidió Luimní (Limerick)
Raidió Luimní notepaper, courtesy of Ger Sweeney

We’ve covered the Limerick scene regularly on this page as it had many notable pirates in the late 1970s and 1980s. One of the more memorable stations was Raidió Luimní run by the inimitable John ‘the Man’ Frawley (RIP) from 1978 to 1988.

Full recording: Raidió Luimní (Limerick)
John ‘the Man’ Frawley on air. Photo courtesy of http://www.stellamaris.no/luimni.html

This recording, courtesy of Ian Biggar, is of John the Man on his popular breakfast programme from 0734-0855 on the 20th of April 1983. The shorter recording below from the 17th of August 1981 is courtesy of Liam Byrne. You can hear plenty more about the Limerick pirates here.

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

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.

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

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

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