Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
The Radio Dublin transmitter at Christmas 1977 (photo courtesy of Bill Ebrill).

Radio Dublin was the only Irish station to ring in the New Year at midnight on Saturday 31st December 1977. The Evening Herald reported that RTÉ Radio had to scrap its planned New Year’s Eve special programme, to be presented by Pat Kenny, because of an industrial relations dispute. The state broadcaster would close down at 11.45pm, leaving the airwaves to Radio Dublin. This was an important period for the pirates as it marked the shift from hobby to full-time broadcasting. Radio Dublin stayed on air for 300 hours over the Christmas and New Year period 1977-1978 and began full-time daily broadcasting on 2nd January 1978.

This recording is of Radio Dublin staff saying farewell to 1977 and ringing in 1978. Running from 2312-0040, it features station owner Eamonn Cooke along with DJs John Paul, Shay West, DJ Sylvie, Mike Eastwood and James Dillon. There are plenty of requests from listeners and thanks to businesses for advertising with the station during the year. At midnight a recording of bells is almost scuppered by a faulty cassette tape. This is followed by the DJs singing Auld Land Syne and a message from the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Michael Collins. Eamonn Cooke urges listeners to lobby the government for a licence for Radio Dublin and also thanks Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) for relaying the broadcast on the shortwave frequency of Westside Radio International. This recording was made locally but there is some night-time co-channel interference and that characteristic Radio Dublin hum throughout. We thank Ian Biggar for the donation.

Radio Dublin rings in New Year 1978
Early Radio Dublin letterhead (courtesy of Ian Biggar)

This was an important period for the pirates as it marked the shift from hobby to full-time broadcasting. Radio Dublin stayed on air for 300 hours over the Christmas and New Year period 1977-1978 and began full-time daily broadcasting on 2nd January 1978. However, the exuberance of New Year’s Eve did not last and in April James Dillon led a walk-out of most staff following allegations that Eamonn Cooke was involved in child abuse. Dillon formed a breakaway station, the Big D, which lasted until 1982. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following Cooke’s conviction 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 announces full-time broadcasting

Radio Dublin announces full-time broadcasting
Photo of Radio Dublin march from Sounds Alternative, February 1978 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Back when pirate stations were part-time hobbyists, Radio Dublin broke the mould on the 17th and 18th September 1977 when it broadcast non-stop for 36 hours. This was a key period in the development of the pirates as stations went full-time for the first time, with Radio Dublin pioneering round the clock broadcasting.

Over the Christmas and New Year period 1977/78, Radio Dublin broadcast continuously for 300 hours. According to Sounds Alternative magazine edited by Kieran Murray, it was the only station in Ireland to ring in the New Year, with the Lord Mayor of Dublin doing the honours. On Monday 2nd January 1978, the station announced that it would begin full-time daily broadcasting and unveiled a new schedule of DJs including Gerry Campbell, James Dillon, Sylvie, Mike Eastwood, Shay West, Dennis Murray and John Clarke.

This recording is of the last 40 minutes of Radio Dublin’s festive marathon from 0020-0100 on 2nd January. The presenter is unidentified but the voice of Shay West is heard with a message in basic French asking an overseas listener to phone home. The broadcast is closed by Radio Dublin’s owner Eamonn Cooke who announces that full-time programming will start later that morning at 8am. This recording was made in Leeds by Gary Hogg, so is very much DX reception, but it is an important piece of history as it marked the start of a new era in Irish radio history. Thanks to Ian Biggar for sharing it with us.

Radio Dublin announces full-time broadcasting
Early Radio Dublin letterhead (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

The non-stop broadcasts attracted the attention of the authorities, and Radio Dublin was raided early on 17th January, only to return to the airwaves by midnight. On 21st January, a march in support of Radio Dublin was held in the city centre, attracting between 8,000-10,000 people, according to Sounds Alternative. The station’s aerial was cut down by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on 24th January but returned within a few weeks. Radio Dublin closed down permanently in 2002 following the conviction of Eamonn 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 raided twice in a week

Radio Dublin raided twice in a week
The aerial system to the rear of 58 Inchicore Road in 1988 (photo courtesy of DX Archive).

After more than a month defying the new broadcasting laws, the inevitable happened in February 1989 when Radio Dublin was raided not once, but twice. The longest-running pirate station in Ireland and indeed the world was visited by Gardaí and Telecom Éireann officials shortly after 6am on Tuesday 7th February and transmission and studio equipment removed. The previous day the Supreme Court had dismissed an appeal by station owner Eamonn Cooke to prevent the Minister for Communications from instructing ESB and Telecom officials from cutting off the electricity and telephone supply to Cooke’s home in Inchicore. Radio Dublin was back on the air by 3pm but on 101 FM only. Four days later on 11th February at 8.20am, the station was raided for a second time but again returned after a few hours.

We’ve edited together two short recordings from that dramatic week to give a sense of the raids and Radio Dublin’s determination to keep going no matter what. The first minute or so was recorded at 9.20pm on 7th February and features Mike Wilson explaining what happened that morning. In the second, from sometime on 11th February, Mike Wilson introduces Eamonn Cooke who says that the aerial system was dismantled in the second raid. Cooke adds that programming is mostly taped for now and that the station has changed location. We thank John Breslin for these recordings.

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 fights attempt to cut off power and phones

Radio Dublin fights attempt to cut off power and phones
Brian Greene’s Radio Dublin badge from the mid-1980s

Radio Dublin was still on air in the second month of 1989 despite an attempt by the authorities to cut off its electricity and power. On 30th January, the High Court rejected an attempt by the station to extend an injunction against the Minister for Communications preventing the cut-off of supply but Radio Dublin was granted a stay of execution of a week.

In this recording of part of his weekly Station News slot on Sunday 5th February, Radio Dublin owner Eamonn Cooke said that the station would take a case to the Supreme Court the following day. He asked listeners to ‘say a few prayers for us’ and to call Minister Ray Burke at his home to complain. Radio Dublin would in fact suffer its first raid two days later. Sound quality is poor on this recording, but apparently modulation was very low that day. We thank 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 still going after attempt to cut off power

Radio Dublin still going after attempt to cut off power
The rear of Radio Dublin at 58 Inchicore Road in 1988 (photo courtesy of DX Archive).

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.