Radio Dublin was the most high-profile of the pirates to defy the new broadcasting laws that came into effect on at midnight on 31st December 1988. The station was served with a prohibition notice to cut off its electricity and phones and it left the air suddenly at 9.44am on 19th January 1989, returning within an hour using a generator. However, embarrassingly for the Minister for Communications, the station went to the High Court later that day and got an injunction obliging the authorities to restore services until the end of the month.
This is a recording of Radio Dublin owner Eamonn Cooke on his weekly Station News slot on Sunday 22nd January 1989, where he mentions the injunction and the upcoming High Court challenge to the constitutionality of the broadcasting laws. He says that Radio Dublin is still on AM, FM and shortwave and hopes to continue until April or May despite the uncertainty. Cooke also announces that 15 or 16 pirates are still on air or have returned, including Radio North in Donegal, Erneside Community Radio in Cavan, Radio Star in Monaghan and Zee 103 in Louth. There are some breaks in the recording and it seems to be an edited version. Thanks to John Breslin for the donation.
Radio Dublin continued for many more years, only closing down permanently in 2002 following the conviction of Cooke for sexually abusing children. He was jailed in 2003 and again in 2007 and died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.
Radio Dublin, one of the longest-running pirates in the world, was the most high-profile station to defy the new broadcasting legislation that came into effect at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1988. Established first in 1966, Radio Dublin embarked on round-the-clock broadcasting in 1977 and set a new standard for pirate radio in Dublin. The great 253 (its announced wavelength, later 1188 kHz) went from strength to strength in the 1980s and launched the careers of many well-known broadcasters.
At the end of 1988, rumours were circulating that Radio Dublin would soldier on despite the new law and the station’s owner Eamonn Cooke announced on Christmas Day that the station would continue into 1989. Radio Dublin switched off its FM transmitter on 105 FM in anticipation of the deadline but kept going on AM and shortwave. Transmissions continued after midnight on 1st January 1989 but taped programming only was heard for the first day. Live shows resumed on 2nd January and FM returned on 101 MHz.
The hammer fell in February with two raids by the authorities in the space of a week and the confiscation of all transmitters and most studio equipment. Electricity and phones were cut off following a court order, forcing Radio Dublin to continue on a generator. The station moved location on several occasions in an attempt to avoid detection and appealed on air for donations of FM transmitters from former pirates. It also tried unsuccessfully to challenge the constitutionality of the 1988 legislation, organising fund-raising events and appealing for donations from listeners towards the considerable costs. There was a third raid in April 1990 but Radio Dublin rose from the ashes again with the help of yet another back-up FM transmitter.
In fact, Radio Dublin defied all odds and continued long beyond the 1989 deadline, only closing down permanently in 2002 following the conviction of Eamonn Cooke for sexually abusing children. It was a grim end to the station that made such a mark on Irish radio history during its 36 years in existence and any discussion of Radio Dublin will always be marred by Cooke’s crimes. From 2003 to 2006, Cooke served three years of a 10-year jail term but was released after the conviction was quashed due to a legal technicality. He was convicted a second time in 2007 for sexual assault of young girls and jailed for 10 years. He died in 2016 while on temporary release. If you require support with this issue, you can contact the organisation One in Four.
Throughout his time at the helm, Cooke took to the air every Sunday lunchtime with ‘Station News’, a rambling account of what was happening at the station and in the Dublin radio scene. This is a recording of the first ‘Station News’ after Radio Dublin defied the new law, from 8th January 1989. We thank John Breslin for the donation.
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.
Here Walter Hegarty interviews Joe Rossa (aka Joe Doyle), the station manager of Radio Dublin for the later part of this iconic station’s history. Joe also discusses his involvement in earlier pirates such as the tiny hobby station Moonlight Radio, NDCR and Ballymun Community Broadcasting which continued until December 1988.
Centre Radio in Bayside was one of the last stations to close at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1988. Rumours abounded that Radio Dublin was going to defy the new legislation and continue broadcasting so early on the morning of the 31st December, Bobby Gibbson (Brian Greene) decided to call Radio Dublin live on air. In this recording, he speaks to breakfast presenter Robbie Prior who says all presenters have been told that this is their final day. However he adds that station owner Eamon Cooke could well have something up his sleeve. The recording includes poor quality live audio from Radio Dublin’s AM broadcast on 1188 kHz.