Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 2)

Documentary: The Irish Pirates (Volume 2)
Capitol Radio, one of the stations featured in this episode of ‘The Irish Pirates’ (image courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

We bring you the second instalment in Leon Tipler’s acclaimed documentary ‘The Irish Pirates’, focusing on the period 1979-1982. In this edition Tipler discusses his visits to Dublin in 1981 and 1982 and features recordings of the pirates as well as interviews with those involved. Stations featured include ARD (Alternative Radio Dublin), Radio 257, Radio City, Capitol Radio and Double R Radio. The distinctive sound of Radio Leinster is commented upon and Tipler also interviews Tony Allan, whose voice was heard increasingly on the Irish pirates. While the focus in this episode is on the smaller stations, there is no escaping the fact that the Irish radio landscape is facing a major upheaval following the arrival of Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova. Below, you can also hear the original recording made by Tipler of the talking butcher’s shop in Moore Street as he walks to the Radio City studios in Capel Street.

These recordings are from the Leon Tipler Tapes Collection, donated to us by Steve England.

Index of Volume 2

00:00 ARD visit 1982
01:52 Jason Maine on Radio 257 in 1980
03:09 Radio 257 jingle Tony Allan
04:20 Radio 257 news
06:00 1980 visit to 257 at Crofton Hotel
08:50 Talking butcher’s shop on Moore Street
10:00 1980 Visit to Radio City
15:25 Interview with Tony Allan
18:25 Capitol Radio
20:45 1981 visit
21:20 Sunshine Radio News
22:10 Ads on Radio City
23:20 BLB
23:40 Radio Nova tests on 846 AM
24:43 Treble TR
24:56 Dún Laoghaire Community Radio
25:15 Radio Leinster
23:40 Southside Radio
26:00 Community Radio Drogheda
26:05 Sonic Weekend Radio
26:18 Radio Dublin telephonist sought
26:55 Big D
27:10 ARD breakfast with Uncle Bren
29:00 Boyneside Radio
29:45 Sunshine car stickers
30:45 Boyneside on FM
32:00 Radio Leinster feature
34:10 Radio Leinster interval signals
36:33 Kennedy’s of Castleross on RTÉ
37:21 Irish Sweepstakes on RTÉ
41:00 1981 visit to Radio City
41:30 John Paul on air
47:45 Dave Charles and Al Dunne on Radio City
51:30 Double R Radio
54:25 Interview with Seán Day of Double R

Aircheck: Radio Leinster closedown

Aircheck: Radio Leinster closedown
Radio Leinster logo courtesy of DX Archive

Radio Leinster closed unexpectedly just after 1pm on the 19th of May 1983, following the raid on Sunshine Radio that morning and on Radio Nova the previous day. Although almost all stations in Dublin switched off their transmitters on the 19th as fears about raids spread, most were back on air within days but Radio Leinster was never to return. Anna Craig (Chisnall) read the lunchtime news at 1pm and said there would be another bulletin at 3pm but within minutes the closure of the station was announced suddenly by managing director Justin James. The station closed with its signature tune, Seán Ó Riada’s ‘Mise Éire’.  

Radio Leinster was an innovative and unique station which aimed at the RTÉ Radio 1 listenership with a mixture of musical styles, talk programmes and specialist shows. It broadcast on 738 kHz am (406 metres) and 93 FM, the signal benefiting considerably from a high site in Sandyford overlooking Dublin. You can hear a recording of Radio Leinster from the morning of the 19th of May here.

This recording is courtesy of one of the Radio Leinster presenters, Al Dunne who was on air for the closedown. A tribute Radio Leinster was set up by another former presenter David Baker in 2020.

Jingles: Radio Leinster (Dublin)

Jingles: Radio Leinster (Dublin)
A flyer advertising Radio Leinster from c. 1983. This was donated by Alan McSimoin (RIP).

Here is a selection of jingles, promos and idents from Radio Leinster in 1983. The sound quality isn’t great as the recording is from AM (738 kHz) but it gives a flavour of the station in its heyday. Radio Leinster was one of the easy listening and talk-based stations serving Dublin in the 1980s. It closed suddenly on the 19th of March 1983 as panic spread among the pirates following raids on the bigger stations. You can hear a recording from that day here.

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 Leinster (Dublin)

Full recording: Radio Leinster (Dublin)
Radio Leinster logo courtesy of DX Archive.

Radio Leinster was one of Dublin’s niche pirates, featuring an easy listening and chat format in contrast with the chart music played on many stations. It began in April or May 1981 from central Dublin before moving to an elevated site in Sandyford overlooking the city. A professional 1 kW transmitter on 738 kHz travelled well by day but was subject to interference at night. Radio Leinster presenters included Gavin Duffy who led the consortium to be awarded the local radio licence for counties Meath and Louth in 1989. Peter Mulryan’s book Radio Radio (1988) reports that in 1982 Duffy announced that he would interview senior Sinn Féin figures including Gerry Adams, in breach of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. The station received a warning from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and Duffy was fired.

This recording is of interest because it is from the last day of Radio Leinster, the 19th of March 1983. Like many other stations, Radio Leinster was spooked by the raids on Radio Nova and Sunshine and closed down suddenly at lunchtime. This recording which begins at 10.20am gives no impression of a crisis, and presenter Mike Moran even announces a competition. The recording is from 93 FM. Radio Leinster was never to return but future stations in the same easy listening vein would be Magic 103, KISS FM (managed by David Baker) and KLAS.

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

Interview: Ken Murray (LRD, Boyneside Radio, Radio Leinster)

Interview: Ken Murray (LRD, Boyneside Radio, Radio Leinster)
The former site of Boyneside Radio in Mill Lane, Drogheda

In this interview, journalist Ken Murray recalls his memories of pirate radio in Louth and Dublin in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1979, he began working with Local Radio Drogheda which evolved into Boyneside Radio.

While in Drogheda, Ken set up ‘The Green Scene’ which is now the longest running programme on Irish commercial radio, presented on LMFM by Eddie Caffrey. Ken then moved to the Dublin station Radio Leinster which closed down suddenly in 1983 during the period of raids against the larger stations Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova. He went on to work as a journalist for RTÉ, LMFM and Independent Radio News and is now editor of EC Radio Ireland. Ken is interviewed by Mary Ryan.

Eddie Caffrey was himself a leading figure in the Louth pirates of the 1970s and 1980s. Listen here to him in a panel about the Louth pirates and here to an individual interview about his involvement in shortwave pirates.