Airchecks: Radio Dundalk

Airchecks: Radio Dundalk
Eddie Caffrey in the Radio Dundalk studio in 1978 (photo courtesy of Eddie himself).

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).

Airchecks: Radio Dundalk
Radio Dundalk letterhead courtesy of Ian Biggar.

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.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 2)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 2)
Capitol Radio, one of the stations featured in this episode of ‘The Irish Pirates’ (image courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

We bring you the second instalment in Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’, focusing on the period 1979-1982. In this edition Tipler discusses his visits to Dublin in 1981 and 1982 and features recordings of the pirates as well as interviews with those involved. Stations featured include ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin), Radio 257, Radio City, Capitol Radio and Double R Radio. The distinctive sound of Radio Leinster is commented upon and Tipler also interviews Tony Allan, whose voice was heard increasingly on the Irish pirates. While the focus in this episode is on the smaller stations, there is no escaping the fact that the Irish radio landscape is facing a major upheaval following the arrival of Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova. Below, you can also hear the original recording made by Tipler of the talking butcher’s shop in Moore Street as he walks to the Radio City studios in Capel Street.

These recordings are from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Index of Volume 2

00:00 ARD visit 1982
01:52 Jason Maine on Radio 257 in 1980
03:09 Radio 257 jingle Tony Allan
04:20 Radio 257 news
06:00 1980 visit to 257 at Crofton Hotel
08:50 Talking butcher’s shop on Moore Street
10:00 1980 Visit to Radio City
15:25 Interview with Tony Allan
18:25 Capitol Radio
20:45 1981 visit
21:20 Sunshine Radio News
22:10 Ads on Radio City
23:20 BLB
23:40 Radio Nova tests on 846 AM
24:43 Treble TR
24:56 Dún Laoghaire Community Radio
25:15 Radio Leinster
23:40 Southside Radio
26:00 Community Radio Drogheda
26:05 Sonic Weekend Radio
26:18 Radio Dublin telephonist sought
26:55 Big D
27:10 ARD breakfast with Uncle Bren
29:00 Boyneside Radio
29:45 Sunshine car stickers
30:45 Boyneside on FM
32:00 Radio Leinster feature
34:10 Radio Leinster interval signals
36:33 Kennedy’s of Castleross on RTÉ
37:21 Irish Sweepstakes on RTÉ
41:00 1981 visit to Radio City
41:30 John Paul on air
47:45 Dave Charles and Al Dunne on Radio City
51:30 Double R Radio
54:25 Interview with Seán Day of Double R

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 1)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 1)
Some of the hundreds of cassettes in the Leon Tipler collection (photo by Brian Greene).

In May 2020, we were delighted to receive a large donation of cassettes belonging to the late Leon Tipler (1942-2013), a British pirate radio enthusiast and broadcaster who recorded thousands of hours of Irish pirate stations in the late 1970s and early 1980s. You can read a tribute here. We thank Steve England for sending us this important collection, which provides a unique insight into a critical period in Irish pirate radio, the years just before and after the arrival of the ‘super-pirates’ in the form of Radio Nova and Sunshine Radio.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 1)
Leon Tipler (photo courtesy of offshoreradio.co.uk)

We’ll be featuring this collection over the coming months, but we begin with Tipler’s well-known series of documentaries covering the period 1979-1982, ‘The Irish Pirates’ by Alfasound Tapetrix Productions. These eight hour-long recordings are reference copies from the documentary maker himself and are in high quality audio.

Volume 1 documents Tipler’s first visits to Dublin in 1979 and 1980 and includes recordings of and interviews with stations on the air in the capital at the time.

These include ARD, Big D, Radio Dublin, Radio City, Radio 257, Southside Radio and Capitol Radio. Tony Allan can be heard reading news and presenting a talk programme on ARD. There’s an interview with Robbie Robinson of the new Sunshine Radio about the loophole in the 1926 Wireless Telegraphy Act although Sunshine itself is not discussed until a later episode. Tipler also covers the launch of RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979 which, although forced by the pirates, did nothing to quell the success of the illegal broadcasters. As Tipler says, the best was yet to come.


Index of Volume 1

00:00 signature tune
00:42 intro
00:55 Nova name check for Leon
02:32 Discover Ireland Radio Advert
03:01 The flight
03:35 Aer Lingus
05:03 RTE Radio 1 Weather
06:26 Aircheck 1 Capitol
07:34 ARD Radio
07:46 Big D Simon Young
08:58 Radio Dublin politics
11:02 Phone in Quiz
12:29 ARD Radio News
13:33 ARD Radio News
14:19 Big D News
15:17 RTE Radio 2 launches
17:32 Irish Radio History
19:10 Larry Gogan
19:40 The expansion of RTE
20:50 Visit 1 leads to visit 2
21:34 Tony Allan
22:16 Tony Allan ARD News
23:15 Dublin is where the action is
26:31 Not all pop music
27:06 ARD visit
29:16 ARD aircheck / jingles / promos
32:25 Radio Dublin – Aidan J
37:59 Land Pirates and the law
38:39 Robbie Robinson explains the loophole
40:40 Radio Dublin 1966
45:07 Visit #3 1980 bandscan
58:32 Hotels and Pirates

Interview: Dave Reddy (Radio Sandymount)

Interview: Dave Reddy (Radio Sandymount)

In this interview, Dave Reddy recalls his involvement in ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin) and Radio 257 at the end of the 1970s. Dave would go to to establish what would today be called ‘pop-up’ community stations, starting with Radio Sandymount in 1984.

Radio Sandymount went on air as part of a community festival in that area and Dave Reddy explains that the model was soon to be requested by community groups elsewhere, leading to similar short-term stations in Ringsend, Donnybrook and Wicklow. Dave was also founder of the first Christmas station Radio Snowflake, which is now run by David Baker who himself broadcast on the 1980s pop-up stations and many other pirates.

The interviewer is Eolann Aitken. You can listen to a recording of Radio Donnybrook here.

Interview: Declan Meehan (part 1: 1970-1982)

Interview: Declan Meehan (part 1: 1970-1982)
Declan Meehan and John Walsh at the studios of East Coast FM in Bray, where Declan has worked since 1994.

We met one of Ireland’s most experienced broadcasters Declan Meehan recently to discuss his significant contribution to Irish pirate radio history and Irish radio in general over the past 50 years.

In the first part of a long interview, Declan discusses the early years of his involvement in the Dublin pirate scene spanning small stations such as Radio Vanessa and Radio Milinda and larger, more professional operations like ARD. He describes his unhappy move to the new RTÉ Radio 2 in 1979 and how he went on to work for the first of the superpirates, Sunshine Radio, where he met Chris Cary.

The interview includes references to many of the best-known names in Irish radio over the past half-century.