Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
John Murray in the Radio Sandymount studio (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

John Murray was a well-known voice on the temporary summer stations set up by Dave Reddy in the 1980s. In this recording from Radio Sandymount on 27th May 1984, he is heard doing a review of the Sunday newspapers. John was a natural broadcaster and could give a comprehensive overview of the papers without doing any preparation in advance, a skill very much in evidence in this clip. The recording also contains a two-hander between John and Dave about a competition and reference to the 78s Show with Tony and Fran Boylan, a regular simulcast with Radio Galaxy.

John Murray went on to work in journalism and public relations in the UK. He was editor of the Scottish edition of the Daily Express for a time and also spent a period at the Independent group. He worked as director of communications with public and private institutions including the Financial Services Authority. We thank Dave Reddy for sharing this recording with us.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
Charlie Sheehan in the Radio Sandymount studio (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Today we bring you a fascinating recording from pop-up community station Radio Sandymount in 1985. Charlie Sheehan, who worked as a postman in Sandymount, was a popular presenter on the station. In this recording, he interviews Mahmood ‘Mike’ Butt, the man credited with introducing Ireland to curry.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
Mahmood ‘Mike’ Butt (photo credit Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire).

Mike Butt was born in Kenya in 1927 and came to Ireland in 1949. In 1956 he opened what was then the only Indian restaurant in Ireland, the Golden Orient in Leeson Street in Dublin. He is also credited with bringing the ice lolly to the Irish market. Mike opened Browne’s spice shop in Sandymount in 1984 and was therefore of particular interest to Radio Sandymount’s listeners. He died in 1988.

This interview gives a great sense of how people like Mike Butt were early pioneers in the diversification of Irish food tastes and the popularisation of all sorts of culinary styles. It was recorded in May 1985 and is shared here with the kind permission of Dave Reddy who ran Radio Sandymount.

Radio Sandymount and similar stations in areas of Dublin such as Ringsend, Glasnevin and Donnybrook were part of the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC) and were regular features during local summer festivals between 1982 and 1988. The photo of Mike Butt is courtesy of Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire and the article in which it was used is available here. Further information about Mike Butt is available here.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Donnybrook

Pop-up community radio: Radio Donnybrook
Brendan O’Carroll (aka Mrs Brown) during his time at ARD (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

Radio Donnybrook was one of a number of ‘pop-up’ community radio stations which broadcast in various parts of Dublin in the mid-1980s under the umbrella of the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC). The first was Radio Sandymount which went on the air as part of a local festival in 1982. According to station founder Dave Reddy, the idea proved popular and was requested by community groups else, including in Ringsend and Donnybrook. Many successful broadcasters cut their teeth in these stations including Brendan O’Carroll (aka Mrs Brown) who was known as Uncle Bren the Kiddies’ Friend, a show which began its life on ARD. Others who went on to RTÉ were Doug Murray (aka Electric Eddie), Aidan Leonard and Suzanne Duffy. David Baker, a well-known voice on Irish radio in the 1980s, was also heavily involved.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Donnybrook
L-R Dave Reddy, Suzanne Duffy and Charlie Sheehan at Radio Donnybrook (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

This recording is of Radio Donnybrook from 10th June 1984 from approximately 1010-1050. There is continuous music for the first 20 minutes or so and then presenter Conor McHugh announces that the station will be testing from 1000-2000 on that day. The station is to broadcast officially from 20th June to 1st July 1984 to coincide with the Donnybrook Fair and advertisers and those wishing to be interviewed are advised to get in contact. Radio Donnybrook was located in the petrol station opposite the Old Wesley Rugby Club and was probably the closest ever pirate to RTÉ!

Pop-up community radio: Radio Donnybrook
David Baker in the Radio Sandymount studio (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

The recording was made from 259 metres (1161 kHz). FM is also announced but in mono due to technical issues. As well as pop-up stations in Donnybrook, Sandymount, Ringsend, Mount Merrion, Glasnevin, Ráth Cairn (Co. Meath) and Wicklow Town, Dave Reddy also set up the first Christmas-themed station, Radio Snowflake.

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

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
The late Tony Boylan pictured in the Evening Herald, 18th August 1986.

Radio Sandymount was the first of several pop-up community radio stations run by the Community Broadcasting Co-operative (CBC) in different parts of Dublin between 1982 and 1988. Set up by Dave Reddy who had been involved with the earlier ARD, it and other stations such as Radio Donnybrook and Radio Ringsend were regular summer features on the Dublin airwaves during that period. In an interview with Pirate.ie, Dave said that the first such station was in Sandymount in 1982 but proved so popular that other community groups wanted their own version.

Radio Sandymount broadcast to coincide with the Sandymount and Merrion Community Week in late May or early June. This recording is of a test transmission on 29th April 1984 made from 270 metres/1116 kHz from 1135-1220. Among the presenters mentioned are David Baker, a well-known name on the Dublin pirate scene, John Murray and Charlie Sheehan who was a postman in Sandymount.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
Charlie Sheehan in the Radio Sandymount studio (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

The recording also includes part of a simulcast of the 78s Show on Radio Galaxy, presented by the veteran pirate broadcaster Tony Boylan and his wife Fran. In 1945, Tony had set up one of Ireland’s earliest pirate stations, the Colleen Home Service, from his bedroom and continued to experiment with transmitters after the war. In the late 1960s, he set up Radio Galaxy on 199 metres/1512 kHz and specialised in playing his large collection of 78s records every Sunday for a few hours.

The 78s Show was very different to most of what was offered by pirate radio at the time and Tony and Fran’s engaging style and deep passion for the music earned them a loyal following. In 1986, they retired to the Isle of Man and became involved in setting up community radio there. Fran Boylan died in 2007 and Tony passed away in 2010.

Peter Mulryan paid tribute to Tony Boylan in his 1988 book, Radio Radio: ‘Tony Boylan’s pioneering broadcasts were amazing feats of personal and electronic achievement, and they were well ahead of their day. While Tony proved that pirate radio was technically possible, it would take younger men another ten years to prove its economic feasibility, and they were still at school’. Broadcast historian Eddie Bohan inducted Tony into his Alternative Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2015.

Pop-up community radio: Radio Sandymount
L-R David Baker, Paula Walsh (Miss Sandymount) and Dermot Lacey in 1986 (photo courtesy of Dave Reddy).

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

Aircheck: Radio Donnybrook (Dublin)

Aircheck: Radio Donnybrook (Dublin)

Radio Donnybrook was one of three temporary community stations which broadcast in the 1980s to celebrate local festivals in Dublin. Radio Sandymount, Radio Ringsend and Radio Donnybrook were all set up by Dave Reddy and broadcast on 981, 1116 or 1134 kHz as well as low power FM. This is a loop recording from 981 kHz on the 10th of June 1984 of David Baker announcing the imminent opening of Radio Donnybrook.

There’s another short recording of Radio Donnybrook here and you can listen to an interview with Dave Reddy about Radio Sandymount here.