Pirate Pioneers: trouble brews for Dublin pirate radio in 1972

Pirate Pioneers: trouble brews for Dublin pirate radio in 1972
Radio Dublin QSL sent to Carlow in 1974 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Following a brief period as Static Radio on 225 metres in late 1971 or early 1972, Radio Dublin re-established itself as a regular weekend broadcaster. Broadcasts resumed on 253 metres (1183 kHz) with a power of 50 watts fed into a V-antenna. At this point the station was located in Roger Lloyd’s flat in Crumlin. They were very pleased to get a reception report from a listener in Cheshire for a normal Sunday lunchtime broadcast.

Regular broadcasts were made every Sunday from noon until 2pm with Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) and Mark T (Mark Storey) each doing an hour. The station served the young people of Dublin who had a penchant for heavier music. However, in the latter part of 1972 trouble first appeared on the horizon for the Dublin free radio stations. A white Volkswagen tracker car was spotted in the vicinity of Radio Galaxy, with the operator Tony Boylan quickly informing the other pirates in the city. The car, along with another, duly turned up in the area fairly close to Radio Dublin, which was forced to abruptly terminate its broadcasts one Sunday.

As a result, the operators of Radio Dublin decided to suspend transmissions on medium wave, with a plan to move to short wave which attracted less attention from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. Reluctantly Radio Dublin made its final broadcast for the time being in October 1972, a wise move considering the raid that followed on Radio Milinda just a few weeks later. We will cover the Milinda story in another post.

This recording, which was supplied by Roger Lloyd, features Prince Terry and Mark T with their goodbye shows. The American jingle package of WDEE ‘the Big D’ is heard throughout. There is also a taped appearance at the end of the transmission from Ken Edwards (Sheehan), the founder of Radio Dublin. We thank Ian Biggar for the text and for sharing this rare recording.

Pirate Pioneers: trouble brews for Dublin pirate radio in 1972
Radio Dublin QSL sent to Hertfordshire in 1974 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Radio Dublin did make some transmissions on shortwave in 1973 and 1974 as the QSL received by Mike Barraclough in Herfordshire shows, as well as sporadic transmissions on 253 metres as illustrated by the QSL received by John Dowling in Carlow.

Pirate Pioneers: the early days of Radio Dublin

Pirate Pioneers: the early days of Radio Dublin
Radio Dublin leaflet from 1972 (courtesy of Ian Biggar).

Radio Dublin or ‘Radio Baile Átha Cliath’ started as a technical point to point experiment by Ken Sheehan (Kenneth Edwards) in 1966 from his home in Drimnigh in Dublin. At about 10 watts, power was too low to travel further than about a mile but over the next three years, the transmitter was modified and power doubled to 20 watts. A new transmitter was installed in 1969 and regular taped music programmes were broadcast, normally on Sunday afternoons. The above information sheet from 1972 gives a flavour of the early history of the station. It’s interesting to see ‘Big D’ being used, years before the split that led to the breakaway station of that name.

Our first recording above of the early days is undated but may be from 1969. It features Radio Baile Átha Cliath on its early 217 metre wavelength. We’re not certain who the DJ is, nor was Ken Sheehan when he heard the recording. The second recording is of Ken Sheehan himself and although again undated, is probably from 1971. By now Radio Dublin was the station name and the wavelength had changed to the well-known 253 metres. The address given was that of the Brighton Independent Radio Movement in England and was used by most of the Irish pirates of the period. There is a short taped insert from ‘Mark Welby’ who might be Mark T. Storey, later to be very involved in the early pirate scene, and a home-made sung jingle. This is pirate gold at its best!

These unique recordings were supplied by Roger Lloyd (Prince Terry) who was an integral part of the pioneering days of Radio Dublin. Thanks to Ian Biggar for the research and for sharing the recordings with us. You can hear an interview with Ken Sheehan here.

Full recording: Westside Radio International

Full recording: Westside Radio International
Prince Terry on air in Westside Radio International c1987
Full recording: Westside Radio International
An early QSL from Westside Radio issued in 1977 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Westside Radio International was one of the longest-running shortwave stations from Dublin in the pirate era. Westside was originally operated by Dr. Don (Don Moore) in 1975 and 1976 at a time when he and Prince Terry (Roger Lloyd) were also involved with Radio Dublin on medium wave. Westside returned to the air on 25th September 1977 on 6210 kHz, this time operated by Prince Terry. It moved to 6280 kHz where it was a permanent feature on Sunday mornings until the end of 1988 when the new radio legislation came into force.

Full recording: Westside Radio International
A leaflet outlining the early history of Westside Radio International (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

Our recording was made on Sunday 21st July 1985 from 1140-1225 and features part of Prince Terry’s FRC programme with his trademark rock music and news about the free radio scene. The programme gives a great sense of pirate radio on both sides of the Irish Sea at the time, delivered through the unique audio experience of shortwave. A panel discussion involving both Prince Terry and Dr. Don can be heard here.

Full recording: Westside Radio International
Westside QSL on its last day of operation in 1988 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

For more information about the shortwave pirates see the DX Archive and Pirate Memories websites. This recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International broadcast a shortwave station in the 1980s from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.  

Interview: Declan Meehan (part 1: 1970-1982)

Interview: Declan Meehan (part 1: 1970-1982)
Declan Meehan and John Walsh at the studios of East Coast FM in Bray, where Declan has worked since 1994.

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.

Panel: Liam de Siún, Roger Lloyd, Ian Biggar, Eddie Bohan and Dr Don Moore

Panel:  Liam de Siún, Roger Lloyd, Ian Biggar, Eddie Bohan and Dr Don Moore
QSL from Westside Radio International on its final day in 1988 (courtesy of Ian Biggar/DX Archive).

On October 20th 2018 over 100 radio anoraks gathered in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin. The purpose was to meet and record oral history of the pirate radio era.

Here we present a great panel of anoraks chatting to Dónal Greene: Liam de Siún (BLB), Roger Lloyd (aka Prince Terry of Radio Dublin and Westside Radio International), Ian Biggar (DX Archive), Eddie Bohan (Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame) and Dr Don Moore (Westside Radio International and ARD).