This is our final recording of Radio Dundalk shortly before the station’s closure due to financial difficulties. It was made on 21st August 1979, just a week before the station left the air for good on 28th August and consists of airchecks of various daytime presenters including PJ the DJ, Brick Wallace and Eric Vaughan. There are adverts, plenty of requests, a competition to win a £1 note, a notice about a lost watch and a news bulletin at 1pm. By this time, the station was calling itself Independent Radio Dundalk or IRD Radio, possibly influenced by other stations such as Alternative Radio Dublin (ARD) or Independent Radio Galway (IRG).
It’s possible to hear a station in the background in part of the recording which we assume was Manx Radio as they were pretty much on the same frequency. The station announced 220 metres or 1367 kHz, although they were also logged on 1360 kHz. We thank Ian Biggar for background information and for sharing this recording with us.
Today we bring you three short airchecked recordings of Radio Dundalk from 1978. The first recording above features a very young (Heady) Eddie Caffrey, reading a statement on behalf of the station criticising an article published in the Sunday World newspaper that morning. The context for the announcement was that there was a raid on Radio Carousel on the 7th of July 1978, but Radio Dundalk was left untouched. The Sunday World was suggesting that Radio Dundalk had contacts in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and hence was not raided. That was loosely true as one of the owners, Hugh McKittrick, worked for the department but had nothing to do with the radio division. The statement was the Radio Dundalk’s response to the article. We estimate that this recording was made on Sunday the 9th of July 1978, two days after the Carousel raid. Radio Dundalk itself was raided on the 13th of July.
The two short recordings below were made on the 14th of May 1978. There are plenty of requests from Dundalk and surrounding towns.
This recording was made about 20km from Dundalk and there is interference on the channel. The presenter reads a live advert for a music shop in Dundalk and there are lots more requests.
Many thanks to Eddie Caffrey for the recordings and to both Eddie and Ian Biggar for background information.
Welcome to our special series documenting the pirate radio history of Counties Louth and Meath since the 1970s, in collaboration with Ian Biggar of DX Archive.
Following the success and growth of pirate Radio in Dublin, it was only a matter of time before some enterprising businessmen saw the potential of the medium in other towns and cities. Dundalk was no exception and such a group, including Hugh Hardy, was planning to put Radio Dundalk on the air. As often happened, there was a disagreement and Mr Hardy left with the intent of starting his own station.
Initial transmissions were made from a two-storey house on Lisdoo Road with the long wire aerial running to a flag pole on the Newry Road garage. The original transmitter was built by Con McParland from Cork, initially on 100 watts and then increased to 400 watts. The station announced 220 metres and was logged on frequencies around 1360 kHz.
Test transmissions started on Sunday 7th May 1978 and again the following weekend bringing six hours of music and chat to the people of Dundalk. Initially it was intended to broadcast only at weekends, but when Radio Carousel began daily broadcasts, Radio Dundalk did likewise. The station launched officially on Saturday May 20th 1978 and proved popular with the audience. In mid-June 1978 Radio Dundalk moved to a more permanent base in the Fairways Hotel on the Dublin Road just outside Dundalk.
Of course the Department of Posts and Telegraphs was active during this early period of pirate radio and Radio Dundalk was hit on Thursday July 13th 1978, when the raiding party, complete with sledgehammers, entered the premises. The 400 watt rig was taken in the raid which received front page coverage in the local press. The standby 100 watt transmitter got Radio Dundalk back on air within hours.
Presenters on Radio Dundalk included Gavin Duffy and station manager (Heady) Eddie Caffrey, both of whom later moved to Boyneside Radio in Drogheda. The transmitter taken in the raid was returned in February 1979 but interestingly by this time the station was broadcasting with a transmitter belonging to Radio Carousel. A contact knew the person who built the rigs and managed to get one for Radio Dundalk. Apparently Hugh Hardy was not best pleased! Eddie Caffrey bought the ‘raid rig’ from Radio Dundalk and later rebuilt it to be used for Boyneside Radio.
A report in The Argus on 2nd March 1979 stated that Radio Dundalk had left the air indefinitely after claiming their frequency was being jammed by another station. A spokesman for Radio Carousel stated ‘it has nothing to do with us’. Radio Dundalk did return to the air, but a combination of technical problems, the departure of key staff and strong competition from Radio Carousel meant its days were numbered. At this point a Gerry Duffy was heavily involved and as Radio Dundalk was about to close, he set about getting backers for a replacement that turned out to be North East Radio. That station will be covered later in this series.
The long recording above from July 31st 1979, featuring Brian Jones and Rick Wallace, was made towards the end of Radio Dundalk’s life. The shorter recording below is from around Christmas 1978 and features Des Wilson on air, reading a poem sent in by Eddie Caffrey’s mother.
FRC Ireland reported that Radio Dundalk closed on 28th August 1979 due to financial difficulties. We thank Ian Biggar for compiling this entry and Ian and Eddie Caffrey for donating the recordings.
Here is some vintage Radio Dublin from the days when 7-day a week broadcasting was still a dream. This is part of their 36-hour marathon over the 17th and 18th of September 1977 with DJs John Paul, Jimmy St Ledger, DJ Sylvie and Johnny Day. It gives a fascinating insight into a key period in the development of the Irish pirates.
Transmission quality left a little to be desired at times, but there’s no doubt this was the biggest station in Dublin at the time. This recording is courtesy of Kieran Murray and was donated to us by Ian Biggar.
This recording of County Sound is from 101 FM on the 23rd or 24th of July 1988 and features Ciaran Wilson (Brannelly) on air. Charley Anderson of the Irish reggae group Century Steel Band, who are in town for Galway Race Week, is in studio and livens up proceedings. Century Steel Band’s version of the popular ballad ‘The Fields of Athenry’ is played and there’s a competition for listeners to win a 12-inch by the band.
Evidence of the success of County Sound is provided by the large number of adverts, many voiced by Jon Richards, now of Galway Bay FM, who was the overnight presenter. A temporary offshoot of County Sound, Tuam Festival Radio, is also mentioned. Thanks to Ciaran Brannelly for this donation.