Interview: John Brady (Radio Ireland International)

Interview: John Brady (Radio Ireland International)
Image from the Radio Ireland International QSL card (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Radio Ireland International was one of several hobby shortwave stations operating from Ireland in the 1980s, usually on the air on Sunday mornings. The station was set up by two 20 year-olds, John Brady and Tony Healy (Clarke on air), on 1st May 1983 using an output power of 90 watts on 6293 kHz. Programmes were mostly pre-recorded with occasional live shows. Shortwave logs from that period are scant but Radio Ireland was heard relaying Radio Nova by Anoraks UK on 9th December 1984 on 6310 kHz. An address in Glasnevin North was given and a recording from around that time said that the station was broadcasting from near Dublin Airport.

Interview: John Brady (Radio Ireland International)
1983 letter from Radio Ireland International to Ian Biggar, giving further station information.

Radio Ireland International was logged again on 6312 kHz on 30th December 1984 and from 1985 on, was a regular on the Irish shortwave scene. An Anoraks Ireland listing from 1986 gave 31 Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1 as the address. On 12th April 1987, Anoraks UK reported that the station had closed for ‘personal reasons’.

Interview: John Brady (Radio Ireland International)
1983 Radio Ireland International QSL (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

In this interview, John Brady tells Eolann Aitken about the early days of Radio Ireland International and described how they used a low-powered FM link to avoid being raided. The interview was conducted on 20th October 2018 at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin at a meet-up of people involved in Irish pirate radio over the years.

Full recording: Capital Radio International

Full recording: Capital Radio International
A Capital QSL from 1981 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Capital Radio International began broadcasting from Dublin in 1981, one of many shortwave pirates from Ireland during that decade. It broadcast for the most part on 6268 kHz with a strong signal – the QSL above records an output of 180 watts which was well above average for the hobby shortwave stations. Capital Radio sometimes operated from the site of another shortwave pirate Radio Valleri.

Our recording was made from 6268 kHz from 1120-1205 on Sunday 11th August 1985 and features the station operator Aidan Hughes. The signal is indeed strong but over-modulated in places and seems to drift slightly off channel. Capital returned to the air in the early 1990s but came to an end when Aidan Hughes died prematurely.

For more information about the shortwave pirates see the DX Archive and Pirate Memories websites. 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: Westside Radio International

Full recording: Westside Radio International
Prince Terry on air in Westside Radio International c1987
Full recording: Westside Radio International
An early QSL from Westside Radio issued in 1977 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Westside Radio International was one of the longest-running shortwave stations from Dublin in the pirate era. Westside was originally operated by Dr. Don (Don Moore) in 1975 and 1976 at a time when he and Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) were also involved with Radio Dublin on medium wave. Westside returned to the air on 25th September 1977 on 6210 kHz, this time operated by Prince Terry. It moved to 6280 kHz where it was a permanent feature on Sunday mornings until the end of 1988 when the new radio legislation came into force.

Full recording: Westside Radio International
A leaflet outlining the early history of Westside Radio International (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Our recording was made on Sunday 21st July 1985 from 1140-1225 and features part of Prince Terry’s FRC programme with his trademark rock music and news about the free radio scene. The programme gives a great sense of pirate radio on both sides of the Irish Sea at the time, delivered through the unique audio experience of shortwave. A panel discussion involving both Prince Terry and Dr. Don can be heard here.

Full recording: Westside Radio International
Westside QSL on its last day of operation in 1988 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

For more information about the shortwave pirates see the DX Archive and Pirate Memories websites. 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: Radio Skywave International

Full recording: Radio Skywave International

We are processing hundreds of hours of recordings made by Radio Skywave International on an ongoing basis, and the Skywave Tapes Collection is one of the largest donations made to Pirate.ie.

Today we feature Radio Skywave International itself, as part of a mini-series this week on shortwave pirates of the 1980s. Like the many Irish shortwave pirates, Skywave was a part-time operation, usually on air on Sunday mornings. the first broadcast on was 28th July 1985 on 6260 kHz and they were first logged by Anoraks UK on August 11th. The address was 58 Seagrange Road, Baldoyle, Dublin 13 and later and later PO Box 1686, Dublin 1.

Full recording: Radio Skywave International
A rear view of 58 Seagrange Road, Baldoyle from where Radio Skywave broadcast (photo for house sale in 2020 as advertised by Movehome Estate Agents on myhome.ie).

Skywave broadcast almost every Sunday for the rest on 1985 on 6260 kHz and into 1986. There were occasional forays onto other shortwave frequencies. On 12th October 1986 the station was noticed relaying the religious programme Good News Radio on 6261 kHz which appeared to become part of their regular Sunday schedule from then on. Skywave seemed to take a break for a few weeks around April 1987 and was not logged until 17th May 1987 when noted on a new frequency of 6850 kHz. 

Full recording: Radio Skywave International
In the Skywave days, there was a long wire down this garden, which contained a 6×4 shed (photo from myhome.ie).

An Anoraks UK report of 31st May 1987 included a letter from station operator Michael Caine (Hegarty) stating that shortwave was being suspended in order to concentrate on an FM station called Downtown Radio. It had a 50-watt transmitter operating on 88 MHz and aimed to be a community station serving Dublin’s north inner city. There was another operation called the Irish Radio Relay Service that carried mostly an English pirate called Falcon Radio (which also used the PO Box in Dublin). This mainly used 6850 kHz, but Skywave appeared there on 23rd August 1987 and became regular towards the end of the year. The station continued into 1988 but was not logged every week. The final logging was on 6850 kHz on 12th June 1988. We thank Ian Biggar from compiling this station history.

This recording is from 6260 kHz from 1045-1200 on 2nd November 1986 and features Dominic Dillon on air, who beings his programme with the Radio Dublin theme song. For more information about the shortwave pirates see the DX Archive and Pirate Memories websites.

Full recording: KFM (Galway)

Full recording: KFM (Galway)
KFM flyer, courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

KFM, also known as Galway County Radio, broadcast from 1986 to 1988 from a village west of Galway before moving into the city itself. It was set up by Shane Martin and John Browne in November 1986 and broadcast initially on 99 FM for 12 and a half hours a day, from 7.30am to 8.00pm. The transmitter site was over 130 metres above sea level in Moycullen, a village 12 kilometres west of Galway, and this gave it a large coverage area. An entry from KFM in the Anoraks UK Weekly Report of February the 1st 1987 claimed that the station was covering an 80-kilometre radius and that it would soon be extended to specialist programming and community information. An AM channel was also promised although this never materialised.

By June 1987, KFM was broadcasting 24 hours a day and claiming to cover both Galway City and Co. Galway, including Connemara. The station told Weekly Report that it was aimed at the 20-50 audience and had a minimum of 15 percent programming in Irish and English, reflecting the fact that part of the Connemara is a Gaeltacht area. KFM also produced a bilingual leaflet, in which it announced its intention to seek a licence.

Full recording: KFM (Galway)
Bilingual KFM flyer, courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive.

At this stage KFM was on 95, 99 and 99.3 FM and was reported to be listenable as far east as Ballinasloe. There were also reception reports from as far south as Ennis in Co. Clare. In November 1987, KFM moved into Galway City, adding to the competition between the pirates there. Coast 103 were the most successful city station at the time but in early 1988 the Tuam station County Sound would also move into Galway. Like most other stations, KFM closed down on the 31st of December 1988.

This recording of KFM was made from 96 FM on the 24th of September 1988 from 2222-2310 and features Shane Keating on air. There are requests for ‘madly in love’ couples and a mixture of pop music and oldies. Keating was clearly a bit of an anorak: he mentions listening to RTÉ Radio 2 on AM in Birmingham and promises a new programme for DXers, with a special focus on shortwave. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation. This was originally recorded by John Breslin in Co. Clare and being outside the core coverage area, audio quality is fair. Thanks also to Shane Martin for further information.