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)
L-R Dave Reddy, Fergus Murray, David Baker and Charlie Sheehan at Radio Sandymount (courtesy Dave Reddy).

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 1982.

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 recordings 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.

Interview: Don Harris – Airtime IRS

Don Harris worked on many of the Dublin AM pirates like ARD and Southside Radio before joining South Coast Radio In Cork. He went on to form the first independent radio sales bureau in Ireland which straddled the pirate era and the legal local radio era.

Interview: Don Harris - Airtime IRS
Airtime advert from Business & Finance 1990
Interview: Don Harris - Airtime IRS
Don Harris on South Coast Radio with Renee & Renato