Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount

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

John Murray was a well-known voice on the temporary summer stations set up by Dave Reddy in the 1980s. In this recording from Radio Sandymount on 27th May 1984, he is heard doing a review of the Sunday newspapers. John was a natural broadcaster and could give a comprehensive overview of the papers without doing any preparation in advance, a skill very much in evidence in this clip. The recording also contains a two-hander between John and Dave about a competition and reference to the 78s Show with Tony and Fran Boylan, a regular simulcast with Radio Galaxy.

John Murray went on to work in journalism and public relations in the UK. He was editor of the Scottish edition of the Daily Express for a time and also spent a period at the Independent group. He worked as director of communications with public and private institutions including the Financial Services Authority. We thank Dave Reddy for sharing this recording with us.

Pirate.ie featured on Community Radio Castlebar

Pirate.ie featured on Community Radio Castlebar
Brian Greene with some of the Pirate.ie collection of archival recordings.

Pirate.ie was featured on Castlebar’s community radio station, CRC FM this week. Brian Greene spoke to Angela Faul on The Chatroom on Thursday 12th November 2020 about our ongoing work in documenting and sharing Ireland’s pirate radio history.

You can listen to CRC FM in the Castlebar area on 102.9 FM or online here.

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.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Ringsend

Pop-up community radio: Radio Ringsend
Al O’Rourke with local kids on Radio Ringsend, c. 1986 (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Radio Ringsend was another popular temporary community station set up by Dave Reddy’s Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC) in the 1980s. The model for all CBC stations was to come on air to coincide with a summer festival, get local people on air and report on events and competitions. The first time Radio Ringsend broadcast was during the Ringsend and District Community Festival in 1982 and the station continued each year until the summer of 1988.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Ringsend
L-R Victor Ryan, Mick Nugent and Al O’Rourke at Radio Ringsend (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

This recording is of Mick Nugent from 1630-1715 on 17th July 1984. Promos and ads feature the voices of David Baker and Bryan Lambert who were well-known names on the Dublin pirate scene and would go on to work on licensed radio. There are plenty of requests of the ‘madly in love’ type with some running to several pages and featuring lots of interesting nicknames. Clearly this was the station of choice for the local kids! Dave Reddy remembers one competition generating 68 calls in one minute on the station’s sole phone line which would often be borrowed from a neighbouring business.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Ringsend
Flyer about Radio Ringsend 1986 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

In 1982, Radio Ringsend was located in the premises of what is now ABEC Glass. They then moved to Con O’Donoghue’s shop, now the local Spar and subsequently to Sally O’Brien’s pub which is now known as the Shipwright Guesthouse. The station’s final venue was the Irishtown Foodstore beside the Irishtown Pharmacy.  

Pop-up community radio: Radio Ringsend
The late Paul Doyle on Radio Ringsend in 1988 (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

In 1984, Radio Ringsend broadcast on 257 metres (1161 kHz) and 103.4 FM. The original transmitter was stolen that year but a new one was built by John Thewlis and operated on either 1512 or 1530 kHz from summer 1985 onwards. Output was about 100 watts but the signal travelled well by day given the frequency. In later years when FM coverage improved, the AM rig was left in Sandymount and linked to the FM signals of the various CBC stations. Mick Nugent would operate another pop-up station, Glasnevin North Community Radio, in 1986.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Ringsend
The AM transmitter used by all CBC stations in later years (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin. Thanks to Dave Reddy for additional information.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Donnybrook

Pop-up community radio: Radio Donnybrook
Brendan O’Carroll (aka Mrs Brown) during his time at ARD (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Radio Donnybrook was one of a number of ‘pop-up’ community radio stations which broadcast in various parts of Dublin in the mid-1980s under the umbrella of the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC). The first was Radio Sandymount which went on the air as part of a local festival in 1982. According to station founder Dave Reddy, the idea proved popular and was requested by community groups else, including in Ringsend and Donnybrook. Many successful broadcasters cut their teeth in these stations including Brendan O’Carroll (aka Mrs Brown) who was known as Uncle Bren the Kiddies’ Friend, a show which began its life on ARD. Others who went on to RTÉ were Doug Murray (aka Electric Eddie), Aidan Leonard and Suzanne Duffy. David Baker, a well-known voice on Irish radio in the 1980s, was also heavily involved.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Donnybrook
L-R Dave Reddy, Suzanne Duffy and Charlie Sheehan at Radio Donnybrook (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

This recording is of Radio Donnybrook from 10th June 1984 from approximately 1010-1050. There is continuous music for the first 20 minutes or so and then presenter Conor McHugh announces that the station will be testing from 1000-2000 on that day. The station is to broadcast officially from 20th June to 1st July 1984 to coincide with the Donnybrook Fair and advertisers and those wishing to be interviewed are advised to get in contact. Radio Donnybrook was located in the petrol station opposite the Old Wesley Rugby Club and was probably the closest ever pirate to RTÉ!

Pop-up community radio: Radio Donnybrook
David Baker in the Radio Sandymount studio (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

The recording was made from 259 metres (1161 kHz). FM is also announced but in mono due to technical issues. As well as pop-up stations in Donnybrook, Sandymount, Ringsend, Mount Merrion, Glasnevin, Ráth Cairn (Co. Meath) and Wicklow Town, Dave Reddy also set up the first Christmas-themed station, Radio Snowflake.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.