Today we begin a series of recordings to mark the closedown of Centre Radio on 31st December 1988. Centre was a youth radio station broadcasting from Baldoyle and Bayside in northeast Dublin during holidays from 19th December 1986 and each day from February 1988 until closedown. Although not widely known outside its small transmission area, Centre is important to this archive because both of the people behind Pirate.ie were involved as teenagers, Brian Greene as one of the station’s founders and John Walsh as a broadcaster.
Over the coming days, we’ll bring you various recordings from the final day of Centre Radio, one of only a handful of pirates still broadcasting in Dublin. This first clip is of Brian Greene (Bobby Gibbson) in the final hours of his overnight programme between 0500 and 0700 on the 31st. There’s a strong anorak feel as Brian talks about pirate history in Ireland, plays jingles from other stations and explains Centre’s plans for the rest of the day.
Listen here to Brian interview Radio Dublin on its last official day on air. Of course, Radio Dublin would defy the new legislation and continue after midnight on the 31st. Listen here to a bandscan presented by Brian and Eamonn Roe (Dave Evans) of the stations still on air on New Year’s Eve in Dublin.
‘Hello Again’, Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary series The Irish Pirates was based on a return visit to Dublin in September 1983. The episode features an AM and FM bandscan from Aberystwyth on the west Wales coast, recorded by Tipler in August 1983. Having climbed Constitution Hill to the north of the town, Tipler gave himself the best chance of picking up radio signals from Ireland a mere 150km away.
This is the original, unedited bandscan as recorded by Tipler on both AM and FM from his perch overlooking the Irish Sea on a sunny Saturday afternoon, 13th August 1983. The pirates heard include Arklow Community Radio, Kilkenny Community Radio, Sunshine Radio and Radio Dublin. RTÉ Radio 1, Radio 2 and Raidió na Gaeltachta are all received loud and clear on FM. There are snippets of unidentified UK stations as well as occasional breakthrough from police communication, possibly due to harmonics.
This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.
This recording made by Brian Greene on AM in July 1985 shows how licensed stations were sometimes literally sandwiched between two pirates. The scan begins with Downtown Radio in Belfast, a faint signal as heard in north Dublin on 1026 kHz. Of course ABC Radio in Tramore were on the same frequency but could not be received on the northside of Dublin because of Downtown. Brian then tunes slightly to the left where Capitol Radio can be heard on 1017 kHz, before tuning back to Downtown again. The scan then moves up another channel to 1035 kHz, where a faint signal from Breffni Central Radio in Longford can be picked up, over 120 km from Dublin.
We are not aware of any online recordings of Breffni Central Radio, an offshoot of Breffni Radio in Kilnaleck in Cavan. Breffni Central began on the 10th of June 1985 and was intended for reception in counties Longford, Roscommon, Galway and Mayo. In fact the estimated 1 kW signal on 1035 kHz was heard over a wide area, helped by a 50-ft high mast. This stretched as far as Galway and Dublin, as this recording shows. Similar to the original Breffni Radio, Breffni Central broadcast Irish and American country music but the two stations each had separate services and did not share programming. We thank Seán Brady for help with information and Ian Biggar for the image.
You can listen to an interview with Gerry O’Reilly, who built transmitters for several stations including Breffni Radio, here.
This is a recording of one of the more eccentric pirate stations in Dublin in the 1980s, Christian Community Radio which operated from the leafy Merrion Square district in the south city centre. Christian Community Radio was run by the Catholic solicitor Gerry O’Mahony who was a leading campaigner against the liberalisation of Irish society in the conservative 1980s. Anoraks UK first reported the station in November 1985 so we estimate that this recording is from around that time. It begins with a quick bandscan down the dial to 90.2 MHz FM, where Christian Community Radio could just about be picked up in our corner of the northeast of Dublin. O’Mahony can be heard leading prayers and then introducing the rosary from a city centre church with a large crowd providing the responses. Even allowing for the weak FM signal the sound quality is very poor but low production standards were one of the hallmarks of the station.
The recording is as much a reminder of the terrible technical standards of some of the pirates as it is of the socially conservative nature of Irish society during that time. Most of the Dublin pirates challenged that status quo but some like Christian Community Radio wanted to maintain it. An infamous row live on air between O’Mahony and Ireland’s foremost radio broadcaster Gay Byrne in 1987 hastened the station’s demise in October of that year.