Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
Charlie Sheehan in the Radio Sandymount studio (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Today we bring you a fascinating recording from pop-up community station Radio Sandymount in 1985. Charlie Sheehan, who worked as a postman in Sandymount, was a popular presenter on the station. In this recording, he interviews Mahmood ‘Mike’ Butt, the man credited with introducing Ireland to curry.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
Mahmood ‘Mike’ Butt (photo credit Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire).

Mike Butt was born in Kenya in 1927 and came to Ireland in 1949. In 1956 he opened what was then the only Indian restaurant in Ireland, the Golden Orient in Leeson Street in Dublin. He is also credited with bringing the ice lolly to the Irish market. Mike opened Browne’s spice shop in Sandymount in 1984 and was therefore of particular interest to Radio Sandymount’s listeners. He died in 1988.

This interview gives a great sense of how people like Mike Butt were early pioneers in the diversification of Irish food tastes and the popularisation of all sorts of culinary styles. It was recorded in May 1985 and is shared here with the kind permission of Dave Reddy who ran Radio Sandymount.

Radio Sandymount and similar stations in areas of Dublin such as Ringsend, Glasnevin and Donnybrook were part of the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC) and were regular features during local summer festivals between 1982 and 1988. The photo of Mike Butt is courtesy of Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire and the article in which it was used is available here. Further information about Mike Butt is available here.

Northeast series: Michael Gerrard of Boyneside Radio

Northeast series: Michael Gerrard of Boyneside Radio
Michael Gerrard in the early days of LMFM where he still presents a show today.

Michael Gerrard was a well-known voice on late-night Boyneside Radio in the station’s later years and gained a large following on his Radio Romance and Night-Time Music slots. Like so many pirate presenters, Michael joined Boyneside when just a teenager and in this interview with John Walsh, he shares his memories of the station with us. After 1989, he went on to work with the local licensed station LMFM.

We also thank Michael for sharing with us two of his final recordings in the run-up to the closedown of Boyneside on 31th December 1988. The first is an aircheck of the final Night-Time Music show on 23rd December.

The second features the final half-hour of Michael’s programme on Friday 30th December 1988, the penultimate day of broadcasting. Some of this has been airchecked.

Both recordings include a farewell message for Boyneside listeners voiced by Eddie Caffrey.

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.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 3)

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 3)
Kieran Murray at RTÉ’s Millennium Radio reception in the GPO Arcade in Dublin (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

In the third and final part of our extended interview with Kieran Murray about his radio career, Kieran describes his transition from the pirates to the new licensed stations in 1989. He began at RTÉ’s local radio service for Dublin, Millennium Radio, where he worked as a ‘general assistant’. He then moved to sports news and presentation on the country’s first independent local licensed station, Capital Radio, which became FM104. After more than a decade using his real name, it was during this time that he started calling himself ‘Stereo Steve’ on air.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 3)
Kieran reporting for Capital Radio from the 1990 World Cup in Italy (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

Kieran then considers the significance of the pirate stations where he spent ten years of his career and concludes by reflecting on the state of radio today. The interviewer is Brian Greene.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 2)

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 2)
Kieran Murray in the Boyneside Radio Kells studio (photo courtesy of Kieran Murray).

In this second part of the interview, Kieran Murray tells Brian Greene about his move from Radio Carousel to its biggest rival, Boyneside Radio, in 1983. Like Carousel, Boyneside had become a regional network and Kieran took over management of its satellite station in Kells, Co. Meath, which had its own opt-out programming.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 2)
A rate card for Boyneside Radio Kells (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Kieran also describes his involvement with Radio Rainbow International, a hobby station set up by Boyneside co-owner Eddie Caffrey. Rainbow could be heard far and wide due to its powerful shortwave signal and Kieran presented a weekly FRC programme which attracted correspondence from across Europe. Part 2 ends with Kieran’s memories of returning to Dublin to work for Liberty 104 at the end of the pirate era in 1987-88.

Interview: Kieran Murray (Part 2)
A QSL for Radio Rainbow International signed by Kieran (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

There’s an interview with Eddie Caffrey about Radio Rainbow International here. We’ll bring you recordings of Rainbow at a later stage in our series about the pirates of the northeast.