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). Paul died in 2020.

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.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
The late Tony Boylan pictured in the Evening Herald, 18th August 1986.

Radio Sandymount was the first of several pop-up community radio stations run by the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC) in different parts of Dublin between 1982 and 1988. Set up by Dave Reddy who had been involved with the earlier ARD, it and other stations such as Radio Donnybrook and Radio Ringsend were regular summer features on the Dublin airwaves during that period. In an interview with Pirate.ie, Dave said that the first such station was in Sandymount in 1982 but proved so popular that other community groups wanted their own version.

Radio Sandymount broadcast to coincide with the Sandymount and Merrion Community Week in late May or early June. This recording is of a test transmission on 29th April 1984 made from 270 metres/1116 kHz from 1135-1220. Among the presenters mentioned are David Baker, a well-known name on the Dublin pirate scene, John Murray and Charlie Sheehan who was a postman in Sandymount.

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

The recording also includes part of a simulcast of the 78s Show on Radio Galaxy, presented by the veteran pirate broadcaster Tony Boylan and his wife Fran. In 1945, Tony had set up one of Ireland’s earliest pirate stations, the Colleen Home Service, from his bedroom and continued to experiment with transmitters after the war. In the late 1960s, he set up Radio Galaxy on 199 metres/1512 kHz and specialised in playing his large collection of 78s records every Sunday for a few hours.

The 78s Show was very different to most of what was offered by pirate radio at the time and Tony and Fran’s engaging style and deep passion for the music earned them a loyal following. In 1986, they retired to the Isle of Man and became involved in setting up community radio there. Fran Boylan died in 2007 and Tony passed away in 2010.

Peter Mulryan paid tribute to Tony Boylan in his 1988 book, Radio Radio: ‘Tony Boylan’s pioneering broadcasts were amazing feats of personal and electronic achievement, and they were well ahead of their day. While Tony proved that pirate radio was technically possible, it would take younger men another ten years to prove its economic feasibility, and they were still at school’. Broadcast historian Eddie Bohan inducted Tony into his Alternative Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2015.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
L-R David Baker, Paula Walsh (Miss Sandymount) and Dermot Lacey in 1986 (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.

Full recording: Bray Local Broadcasting

Full recording: Bray Local Broadcasting
BLB car sticker (courtesy of DX Archive).

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.

Full recording: Bray Local Broadcasting
9 Prince of Wales Terrace, Quinsboro Road, Bray from where BLB broadcast in its later years. Horizon Radio was also based here (photo by John Walsh).

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.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 6)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 6)
Episodes from the Leon Tipler documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’, from his collection (photo by Brian Greene)

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.

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 6)
ERI car sticker, courtesy of DX Archive.

This recording is from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Index to Volume 6

00:00 Visit to Suirside Radio (cont. from Vol. 5)
07:30 Visit to WLR
07:30 WLR news and Dermot Graham show
23:00 Visit to Cork
23:15 Community Radio Youghal
24:55 CCLR
25:35 Don Allen on ERI
27:30 South Coast Radio
28:40 CCLR
28:55 ERI
29:05 South Coast Radio
31:00 Visit to CCLR
41:15 Rivalry between local press and pirates
47:10 Don Stevens on South Coast Radio
50:00 Visit to South Coast Radio
53:00 Interview with John Lewis
56:00 South Coast Radio £1,000 giveaway