Requests and local news on Radio na nGael

Requests and local news on Radio na nGael
Radio na nGael flyer from 1984 (courtesy DX Archive).

Radio na nGael was a specialist station broadcasting mostly ballads and traditional Irish music from a village near Swords in north Co. Dublin between 1984 and 1986. It broadcast on 1350 kHz AM and on low power on 92 MHz FM, presumably to link to the AM transmitter. The station was also heard on 6340 kHz shortwave but the frequency suffered from interference. Radio na nGael broadcast some problems in Irish but was closed down after RTÉ sought an injunction due to the similarity of the name with that of the national Irish language station Raidió na Gaeltachta.

This recording was made from the AM frequency and dates from the end of January 1985. The cassette label refers to 30th January but the 31st is announced on air. Beginning at 1335, we first hear Mairéad with housewives’ requests and she is followed at 1400 by Danny Tobin. Community news for Fingal is also broadcast.

The signal sounds over-modulated, particularly near the end but we do not know if this was due to a transmission issue at the time or is related to the age of the cassette. The recording is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International was a 1980s shortwave station broadcasting from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin.

Irish ballads and country on Radio na nGael

Irish ballads and country on Radio na nGael
Radio na Gael car sticker (courtesy DX Archive).

Radio na nGael (meaning literally ‘radio of Irish speakers’) broadcast from 1984 to 1986 from the village of Montgorry near Swords in north Co. Dublin and specialised in Irish music including ballads, traditional and country. Some of the output was in Irish. The station was launched on 92.2 FM on 2nd February 1984 and soon added 1350 kHz AM and 6340 kHz shortwave. Radio na nGael claimed to be the only Irish station broadcasting on shortwave 24 hours a day and boasted of serving the Irish diaspora but the frequency suffered from a lot of interference. A station leaflet from 1984 gave the FM output as just 10 watts, with 200 watts on medium wave and 500 watts on shortwave.

As in the sticker above, the station sometimes misspelt its name as ‘Radio na Gael’. Broadcast historian Eddie Bohan was written that it was closed down in 1986 after RTÉ took out an injunction, objecting to the similarity with the name of the national Irish language station Raidió na Gaeltachta. The only medium wave frequency logged was 1350 kHz, but the cassette label accompanying this recording notes 217 metres, which is closer to 1377 kHz. In any case, splatter from an adjacent station can be heard in this recording, which is most likely BBC Radio Ulster on 1341 kHz. It was made from 1300-1345 on 7th June 1984.

The recording consists of continuous music only with no station identification but gives a good flavour of the Radio na nGael musical style. It is from the Skywave Tapes Collection. Skywave Radio International was a shortwave station broadcasting from Baldoyle in northeast Dublin in the 1980s.

Westside Radio following 1983 raids

Westside Radio following 1983 raids
Westside Radio advert in Irish Radio News in 1983 (courtesy Ian Biggar).

Following the raids on Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova, the pirate airwaves of Dublin fell largely silent. Only three stations remained on air: Radio Dublin from Inchicore, ABC Radio from the city centre and Westside Radio from Mulhuddart in the west of the city. This recording is of Westside Radio from the morning of 20th May 1983, the day after Radio Nova’s official closedown. DJ John Martin says that no pirates remain on FM in the city, with just three on AM, including Westside. Listeners are invited to complete a petition in favour of the pirates and send it to Westside or Radio Nova itself in advance of a court hearing the following week.

The recording was made from 1035 kHz, announcing 290 metres. Westside went on the air in early 1983 and later merged with ABC Radio to become Radio Annabel, which began testing in September 1983.

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

ABC Radio following 1983 raids

ABC Radio following 1983 raids
ABC studio (from former tribute site abcradio-dublin.com, no longer online).

ABC Radio was one of the smaller Dublin stations of the early 1980s, operating from 1981 until the autumn of 1983. Broadcasting from the Ivy Rooms Hotel (now the Gate Hotel) on Parnell Street, ABC was an offshoot of Radio Dublin Channel 2 and eventually merged with another small station, Westside Radio, to form Radio Annabel. It was one of three stations that remained on air in Dublin following the infamous raids on Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova in May 1983.

This recording runs from 1123-1143 on Friday 20th May and is from FM in mono, although we don’t have a frequency. ABC also broadcast on 981 kHz AM around this time, announcing 312 metres. Ger Parks jokes that the DJs had been out late the previous night, no doubt related to the raids. There’s also mention of a protest march in favour of pirate radio to be held the following week.

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

Radio Nova official closedown, 19th May 1983

Our montage of the final minute of Nova with photos taken by Joe King.

Here’s the iconic announcement of the official closedown of Radio Nova at 6pm on Thursday, 19th May 1983, following the raid by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs on the station the previous morning. From the afternoon of the 19th as news of the imminent closure spread, a large crowd assembled outside the studios at 19 Herbert Street, Dublin 2 and Nova’s many listeners near and far heard the electric farewell broadcast. Watch a video of the dramatic closedown announcement voiced by Tony Allan, with photographs of the final day courtesy of Joe King. Listen below to the final 40 minutes of broadcasting from 1720-1800.

The final 40 minutes of Radio Nova on May 19th 1983.

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