Airchecks: Radio Dundalk

Airchecks: Radio Dundalk
Radio Dundalk badge (courtesy of Eddie Caffrey)

Today we bring you three short airchecked recordings of Radio Dundalk from 1978. The first recording above features a very young (Heady) Eddie Caffrey, reading a statement on behalf of the station criticising an article published in the Sunday World newspaper that morning. The context for the announcement was that there was a raid on Radio Carousel on the 7th of July 1978, but Radio Dundalk was left untouched. The Sunday World was suggesting that Radio Dundalk had contacts in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and hence was not raided. That was loosely true as one of the owners, Hugh McKittrick, worked for the department but had nothing to do with the radio division. The statement was the Radio Dundalk’s response to the article. We estimate that this recording was made on Sunday the 9th of July 1978, two days after the Carousel raid. Radio Dundalk itself was raided on the 13th of July.

Airchecks: Radio Dundalk
The now renovated Fairways Hotel from where Radio Dundalk broadcast (photo by John Walsh).

The two short recordings below were made on the 14th of May 1978. There are plenty of requests from Dundalk and surrounding towns.

Tommy Tubridy presenting the Radio Dundalk Top 20 on 14 May 1978.

This recording was made about 20km from Dundalk and there is interference on the channel. The presenter reads a live advert for a music shop in Dundalk and there are lots more requests.

Michael Harrison (aka Hughes) on Radio Dundalk on 14 May 1978.

Many thanks to Eddie Caffrey for the recordings and to both Eddie and Ian Biggar for background information.

Full recording: Radio Dundalk

Full recording: Radio Dundalk
Radio Dundalk letterhead (courtesy of Eddie Caffrey)

Welcome to our special series documenting the pirate radio history of Counties Louth and Meath since the 1970s, in collaboration with Ian Biggar of DX Archive.

Following the success and growth of pirate Radio in Dublin, it was only a matter of time before some enterprising businessmen saw the potential of the medium in other towns and cities. Dundalk was no exception and such a group, including Hugh Hardy, was planning to put Radio Dundalk on the air. As often happened, there was a disagreement and Mr Hardy left with the intent of starting his own station.

Initial transmissions were made from a two-storey house on Lisdoo Road with the long wire aerial running to a flag pole on the Newry Road garage. The original transmitter was built by Con McParland from Cork, initially on 100 watts and then increased to 400 watts. The station announced 220 metres and was logged on frequencies around 1360 kHz.

Test transmissions started on Sunday 7th May 1978 and again the following weekend bringing six hours of music and chat to the people of Dundalk. Initially it was intended to broadcast only at weekends, but when Radio Carousel began daily broadcasts, Radio Dundalk did likewise. The station launched officially on Saturday May 20th 1978 and proved popular with the audience. In mid-June 1978 Radio Dundalk moved to a more permanent base in the Fairways Hotel on the Dublin Road just outside Dundalk.

Full recording: Radio Dundalk
The new Fairways Hotel outside Dundalk. The original Fairways on this site was the home of Radio Dundalk (photo by John Walsh)

Of course the Department of Posts and Telegraphs was active during this early period of pirate radio and Radio Dundalk was hit on Thursday July 13th 1978, when the raiding party, complete with sledgehammers, entered the premises. The 400 watt rig was taken in the raid which received front page coverage in the local press. The standby 100 watt transmitter got Radio Dundalk back on air within hours.

Presenters on Radio Dundalk included Gavin Duffy and station manager (Heady) Eddie Caffrey, both of whom later moved to Boyneside Radio in Drogheda. The transmitter taken in the raid was returned in February 1979 but interestingly by this time the station was broadcasting with a transmitter belonging to Radio Carousel. A contact knew the person who built the rigs and managed to get one for Radio Dundalk. Apparently Hugh Hardy was not best pleased! Eddie Caffrey bought the ‘raid rig’ from Radio Dundalk and later rebuilt it to be used for Boyneside Radio.

A report in The Argus on 2nd March 1979 stated that Radio Dundalk had left the air indefinitely after claiming their frequency was being jammed by another station. A spokesman for Radio Carousel stated ‘it has nothing to do with us’. Radio Dundalk did return to the air, but a combination of technical problems, the departure of key staff and strong competition from Radio Carousel meant its days were numbered. At this point a Gerry Duffy was heavily involved and as Radio Dundalk was about to close, he set about getting backers for a replacement that turned out to be North East Radio. That station will be covered later in this series.

The long recording above from July 31st 1979, featuring Brian Jones and Rick Wallace, was made towards the end of Radio Dundalk’s life. The shorter recording below is from around Christmas 1978 and features Des Wilson on air, reading a poem sent in by Eddie Caffrey’s mother.

Radio Dundalk audio from December 1978, courtesy of Eddie Caffrey.

FRC Ireland reported that Radio Dundalk closed on 28th August 1979 due to financial difficulties. We thank Ian Biggar for compiling this entry and Ian and Eddie Caffrey for donating the recordings.

Full recording: Boyneside Radio (Drogheda)

Full recording: Boyneside Radio (Drogheda)
The former Boyneside Radio studios at Mill Lane in Drogheda (pic John Walsh).

This is a snippet from Eddie Caffrey’s ‘Afternoon Delight’ programme on Boyneside Radio from Drogheda on the 18th of May 1983 from 1614-1632, recorded from 1332 kHz/225 metres. There is no mention of the raid on Radio Nova that morning but pirates throughout the country were becoming nervous. Many Dublin stations closed voluntarily the following day following another raid on Sunshine Radio but Boyneside stayed on the air.

This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.  

Interview: Ian Biggar (part 1: Boyneside Radio, Radio Carousel)

We met one time broadcaster and long time enthusiast of Irish pirate radio Ian Biggar in Harrogate recently to discuss his love of the medium and his involvement in Irish stations.

Interview: Ian Biggar (part 1: Boyneside Radio, Radio Carousel)
John Walsh interviewing Ian Biggar

In the first part of a long interview, Ian talks about how he first got into pirate radio while still a child in Scotland. He then describes how he discovered the Irish scene and went on to work in the Co. Louth stations Boyneside Radio and Radio Carousel.

Interview: Ian Biggar (part 1: Boyneside Radio, Radio Carousel)
Doing some MW DXing with the help of a loop

Ian recorded thousands of hours of valuable Irish pirate radio and has contributed significantly to the DX Archive site. We’re very grateful to Ian for his time and hospitality during our visit to Harrogate and for his life-long dedication to preserving Irish pirate radio memories.

Jingles: Boyneside Radio

Jingles: Boyneside Radio
Image courtesy of DX Archive

Boyneside Radio from Co. Louth was one of the largest and most successful regional stations in Ireland during the 1980s. It broadcast for 10 years from 1978 to 1988 from Drogheda. During that decade Boyneside developed a series of additional transmitters and opt-out services in Navan, Kells, north Dublin and along the border aiming into Northern Ireland. Here’s a selection of jingles including a series of cuts introduced by station engineer Eddie Caffrey.

‘Bubbling Boyneside Radio … in touch with you!’
Jingle cuts introduced by Eddie Caffrey

You can hear a panel discussion on the Louth pirates here and a separate interview with local veteran broadcaster Eddie Caffrey here. We also have a recording of how Boyneside covered the controversy about Radio Tara (to become Atlantic 252) in Co. Meath.