Bray Local Broadcasting (BLB) was one of the pioneers in local community broadcasting during the pirate era and was a leading member of the National Association of Community Broadcasters (NACB) which lobbied for licensed community radio. It began broadcasting in 1979 and continued until the closedowns at the end of 1988, making it one of the country’s longest-running pirate stations.
As a community station, BLB prided itself on catering for minority groups and audiences served poorly by mainstream radio, including Irish speakers in its catchment area of north Wicklow and south Dublin. Irish was marginal on pirate radio, particularly among commercial stations, but community radio across the country regularly broadcast programmes in Irish. There were also Irish language pirate stations such as Saor-Raidió Chonamara in the Connemara Gaeltacht in 1970 (which led to the establishment of Raidió na Gaeltachta) and Raidió an Phobail in Dublin in 1979.
Mar stáisiún pobail, chuir BLB roimhe freastal ar ghrúpaí mionlaigh agus daoine nach raibh freastal mar is ceart á dhéanamh orthu ag na stáisiúin mhóra raidió, ina measc cainteoirí Gaeilge i dtuaisceart Chill Mhantáin agus deisceart Bhaile Átha Cliath. Bhí an Ghaeilge imeallach ar an raidió bradach, go háirithe ar na stáisiúin tráchtála, ach craoladh cláracha Gaeilge ar stáisiúin raidió pobail ar fud na tíre. Bhí stáisiúin bhradacha Ghaeilge ann chomh maith, ina measc Saor-Raidió Chonamara i nGaeltacht Chonamara in 1970 (a thug ann do Raidió na Gaeltachta) agus Raidió an Phobail i mBaile Átha Cliath in 1979.
This is an extract from the final half hour (2030-2100) of one of BLB’s Irish language programmes Timchuairt Bhré (a trip around Bray), presented by Rónán Ó Dubhthaigh on 9th November 1983. Rónán went on to present Irish language programmes on the successor licensed station to BLB, Horizon Radio. John Walsh of Pirate.ie also worked on those programmes. The recording features Irish traditional and folk music and is followed by the station closedown at 2100.
Seo í an leathuair an chloig deireanach (2030-2100) de cheann de chláracha Gaeilge BLB, Timchuairt Bhré, á chur i láthair ag Rónán Ó Dubhthaigh ar 9 Samhain 1983. Lean Rónán air ag cur cláracha Gaeilge i láthair ar Horizon Radio, an stáisiún ceadúnaithe a tháinig i gcomharbacht ar BLB. D’oibrigh John Walsh ó Pirate.ie ar na cláracha sin chomh maith. Ar an taifeadadh seo, cloistear ceol Gaelach agus traidisiúnta agus ina dhiaidh sin dúntar an stáisiún ar 2100.
This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.
Continuing Part 3 of Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’, episode 6 looks at the pirate scene in Waterford and Cork in 1983. The hour begins with more from Suirside Radio in Waterford and an interesting discussion about the nature of community radio at the time. Tipler then moves on to Waterford Local Radio (WLR) before continuing his visit to Cork where he visits ERI, Cork City Local Radio (CCLR) and South Coast Radio. We get an insight into the rivalry between local press and the pirates and between the larger stations ERI and South Coast.
This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.
Community Radio Youghal celebrated the 40th anniversary of its start as a pirate on the 4th of July 2019. The station, one of the pioneers in community radio, began its life in a loft at the farmhouse of Eileen Connolly outside the town, before moving into the centre of Youghal. In this interview one of CRY’s founders, Noel Cronin, tells John Walsh about the station’s origins, its early community programming and outside broadcasts, the transmission set-up on AM and FM and the emotional final broadcast on the 31st of December 1988. Community Radio Youghal returned as a licensed station and continues to broadcast today on 104 FM to Youghal and surrounding areas in east Cork/west Waterford.
You can listen to a documentary about the history of CRY here. This interview with Noel Cronin was first broadcast on Wireless on Flirt FM. Photos are courtesy of Ian Biggar of DX Archive where more information can be found about CRY.
Wonderland Radio was a community station broadcasting to the suburb of Tallaght in southwest Dublin from 1984 to 1988. According to local newspaper The Tallaght Echo, it was launched on the 12th of May 1984. One of those involved in setting up the station was the late Fr. Joe Cullen, a Dominican priest from Tallaght and Wonderland is yet another example of a community pirate established after the departure of RTÉ’s local radio experiment from the area. The address for most of Wonderland’s existence was a cottage at 3 Greenhills Road but it famously broadcast from the back of an ambulance at one stage. Wonderland was first noted by Anoraks UK on their Ireland tour in October 1984 and is logged a few times on 1359 kHz/220 metres over the following year although the signal on the west coast of England suffered from splatter from Manx Radio on 1368 kHz.
Wonderland’s promotional material used the strapline ‘Tallaght Community Broadcasting’ and changed its name to Tallaght Community Radio in the summer of 1986. The station continued until the end of 1988 on both AM and FM (91.8 MHz) and as the advert below illustrates, shared the ethos of other community broadcasters such as BLB and NDCR. ‘TCR’ was not supposed to be used on air because the full title emphasised the station’s community credentials. Wonderland and Tallaght Community Radio were also popular with radio anoraks because of the Friday night Free Radio Show hosted by Bernard Evans from late 1986. Many of those involved in the station went on to set up the licensed Tallaght FM which was on air from 1999 to 2008. Thanks to Ralph McGarry and Bernard Evans for assistance with research.
This recording from 1206-1252 on the 11th of December 1985 features the American-sounding presenter John Gummin (possibly an on-air name) with a mixed contemporary and 1960s music style. The recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.
Radio Donnybrook was one of three temporary community stations which came on air in 1984 to celebrate local festivals in Dublin. Radio Sandymount, Radio Ringsend and Radio Donnybrook were all set up by Dave Reddy and broadcast on 981, 1116 or 1134 kHz as well as low power FM. This is a loop recording from 981 kHz on the 10th of June 1984 of David Baker announcing the imminent opening of Radio Donnybrook.
There’s another short recording of Radio Donnybrook here and you can listen to an interview with Dave Reddy about Radio Sandymount here.