Background: other Galway City pirates

We’ve just completed a week-long series of recordings of the pirate stations based in and around Galway City in the 1980s, including Atlantic Sound, WLS, Coast 103, County Sound and Radio Pirate Woman. These were all from the final part of the Irish pirate radio era from 1984 to 1988 with the exception of Radio Pirate Woman which defied the new legislation and carried on into the 1990s and beyond. Like Dublin, Galway also had an earlier wave of pirates which paved the way for the larger commercial stations. Among those were Independent Radio Galway and Atlantic Radio.

Background: other Galway City pirates
Entry about IRG in FRC Ireland Newsletter, issue 5, August/September 1978 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Independent Radio Galway, broadcasting in the late 1970s on 199 metres (1503 kHz) was the closest that Galway came to a community radio station. Set up by Tom O’Connor of O’Connor’s television repair shop, it began on April 15th 1978 and was one of major pirates that emerged from the RTÉ local radio experiment of that period. IRG closed on July 28th 1979 following the establishment of RTÉ Radio 2. More information is available here. Surprisingly for a city with a long tradition of the arts and community development, Galway never developed community radio in the mould of well-known stations such as Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) and North Dublin Community Radio (NDCR). Another early station was Atlantic Radio (no relation to the later Atlantic Sound as far as we know), which was due to begin broadcasting on February 25th 1978. As the report below indicates, they had big plans including transmitters in North Galway and Mayo and a separate city service, Galway Community Radio. The station gave an address in Renmore on the east side of the city.

Background: other Galway City pirates
Entry about Atlantic Radio in FRC Ireland Newsletter, issue 3, February/March 1978 (courtesy Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

County Sound was an example of a station situated outside Galway city which moved eventually into the city centre. Another county station, KFM, was set up in 1986 in the village of Moycullen 12 km northwest of Galway. Later it opened a studio in the city centre and announced two FM frequencies, one for the city (99 MHz) and another for the county (95 MHz). AM was planned but never materialised.

Background: other Galway City pirates
Rate card for KFM (c. 1986) courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

There was a remarkable similarity between the design of the KFM rate card and the one used previously by Atlantic Sound!

Background: other Galway City pirates
Atlantic Sound rate card c. 1986 (courtesy Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Other stations included West Coast Community Radio (WCCR) which broadcast from spring 1982 until July 1983 on AM only, with its aerial running along the terrace of Cloonacauneen Castle north of Galway before moving to a frozen meat factory in Roscam on the east side of the city. Among those involved with WCCR were the current CEO of Galway Bay FM, Keith Finnegan. Radio Renmore was a low-powered station (approximately 5 watts) on 100 FM which operated from August 1983 until early 1985 from the eastern suburb of Renmore. Set up by three teenagers, Gary Hardiman, Tom Breen and Brendan Mee, it broadcast during the school holidays and was known as Radio Snowflake at Christmas 1984. Emerald FM was an irregular pirate from Shantalla in 1986 as was WHYT which gave an address in Eglinton Street in the city centre. In 1987 another hobby station, Radio Impulse, was logged mainly at weekends.

Stations in Co. Galway included the very early pirate Saor-Raidió Chonamara which broadcast on two separate occasions in 1970 from Ros Muc, a village in the Gaeltacht area of Connemara. It was a pioneer in Irish language broadcasting and led to the establishment of RTÉ’s Irish language service Raidió na Gaeltachta in 1972. Further to the northwest, Connemara Community Radio came on the air in 1988 in the village of Letterfrack. It is now a licensed station of the same name. In the east of the county, Kandy Radio broadcast from Ballinasloe from 1986 to 1988 and Galway District Radio was a short-lived station in Loughrea.

Thanks to Brendan Mee for background details. We plan to bring you further information about these and other stations, as well as more recordings, in another Galway series in the future.

Full recording: Wonderland Radio (Dublin)

Full recording: Wonderland Radio (Dublin)
Flyer for Wonderland Radio courtesy of Ian Biggar, DX Archive.

Wonderland Radio was a community station broadcasting to the suburb of Tallaght in southwest Dublin from 1984 to 1988. According to local newspaper The Tallaght Echo, it was launched on the 12th of May 1984. One of those involved in setting up the station was the late Fr. Joe Cullen, a Dominican priest from Tallaght and Wonderland is yet another example of a community pirate established after the departure of RTÉ’s local radio experiment from the area. The address for most of Wonderland’s existence was a cottage at 3 Greenhills Road but it famously broadcast from the back of an ambulance at one stage. Wonderland was first noted by Anoraks UK on their Ireland tour in October 1984 and is logged a few times on 1359 kHz/220 metres over the following year although the signal on the west coast of England suffered from splatter from Manx Radio on 1368 kHz.

Wonderland’s promotional material used the strapline ‘Tallaght Community Broadcasting’ and changed its name to Tallaght Community Radio in the summer of 1986. The station continued until the end of 1988 on both AM and FM (91.8 MHz) and as the advert below illustrates, shared the ethos of other community broadcasters such as BLB and NDCR. ‘TCR’ was not supposed to be used on air because the full title emphasised the station’s community credentials. Wonderland and Tallaght Community Radio were also popular with radio anoraks because of the Friday night Free Radio Show hosted by Bernard Evans from late 1986. Many of those involved in the station went on to set up the licensed Tallaght FM which was on air from 1999 to 2008. Thanks to Ralph McGarry and Bernard Evans for assistance with research.

Full recording: Wonderland Radio (Dublin)
Advert for Wonderland Radio in the Sunday World, 8th December 1985. Courtesy Alan MacSimoin collection.

This recording from 1206-1252 on the 11th of December 1985 features the American-sounding presenter John Gummin (possibly an on-air name) with a mixed contemporary and 1960s music style. The recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. 

Full recording: Concord Community Radio 27/03/1983

Jack Byrne Concord / John Murphy BLB on Dateline Dublin, 337m / 890KHz, Concord Community Radio, 6pm 27 March 1983 – Conor Cullihy presenting.

A programme promoting the politics of community radio. At 30 minutes there is a recording credited to Bray station BLB. The 10 minute piece makes the case for locally owned community radio and explains the other versions of commercial local and state-run community radio that were being considered in Ireland in the early 1980s.

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: Concord Community Radio 27/03/1983
pic via Brian Greene

Full recording: Concord Community Radio (Dublin)

890 kHz / 337 metres, Concord Community Radio (Artane/Coolock), 27/03/1983 from 7pm, Boppin’ Billy on air. Billy went on to be manager at North Dublin Community Radio (NDCR), was on Radio Caroline Dublin for 10 years in the 90s, also worked for Beaumont Hospital Radio and these days he is on Dublin City FM on Fridays from midnight to 2am. Still playing rockabilly!

Jingles: North Dublin Community Radio

North Dublin Community Radio (NDCR) began broadcasting from Coolock in northeast Dublin in 1983 and was one of the leading community stations of the time, broadcasting on 1008 kHz AM and 100 FM. Many of those involved in NDCR went on to establish NEAR FM, the current licensed community station for northeast Dublin. Here’s a selection of NDCR jingles and promos from 1987 and 1988.

This station ident is from late 1988 when NDCR had dropped its AM service.
A jingle from 1988.
A station promo from 1988.

You can hear an interview with NDCR founder Jack Byrne here and with former presenter Declan Ralph here.