Monday, 9 February 2015

The Compete History of Irish Broadcasting

This is a small extract from Chapter 7 of my book on the complete history of Irish Broadcasting, decade by decade. It covers the histories of over 2000 Irish radio and television history. Next time the complete story of pirate radio megalith Radio Nova, warts and all
Chapter Seven – The 1960’s
Irish Military Radio
On Monday 25th June 1962 at 1800 hrs the Minister of Defence, Mr. Gearoid Mac Pharthalain T.D. switched on and made the first transmission from Radio Oglaigh Na h-Eireann, to the Irish troops serving with the U.N. forces in the Congo. Also present were the Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. John McKeown and Mr. Martin O’Dwyer from Telecommunications Ltd. The transmitter was set up by Company Sergeant Patrick Treacy and Sergeant Barney O’Keeffe. The primary object of this Radio Station was to broadcast, on a daily basis, News, Sports and other items of interest.
Messrs Telecommunications Ltd. presented the Army with the 1.3 KW (crystal controlled) Transmitter. The “Rhombic” type aerial stood 70 ft. above the Curragh plains next to the Studio which was located in the annex of the Gymnasium. The time of transmission was fixed each day for 17.30 hrs G.M.T. The frequency used was 17.544 khz in the 16 Meter Band (The Curragh Army Museum)
But while this station was entertaining the troops in the Congo over in the illegal broadcasting world it was not a domestic pirate station that garnered all the headlines in the so called Swinging Sixties. The grandson of The O’Rahilly who had died during the final hours of the Easter Rising 1916, used his family’s business connections in the County Louth port of Greenore to launch a revolutionary radio station. Radio Caroline was based on board a ship located outside the territorial waters of Britain in the North Sea and broadcast pop music to a nation of young people who only had Radio Luxembourg, the Great 208 to hear their favourite artist. Despite the introduction of the 1967 Marine Broadcasting Offences Act and the launch of BBC Radio One with a number of the DJ’s who had made their name on the off shore pirate stations, Radio Caroline famously housed on the Mi Amigo continued to broadcast. One of the stations that closed with the introduction of the new 1967 laws was Radio Scotland and Ireland which was based on a ship, The Comet, anchored off the coast of Ballywater, County Antrim. Pirate stations in Dublin and Cork became more common broadcasting from secret locations on homemade transmitters usually on Sunday’s or late at night. Aerials were not masts but wire strung from an attic or bedroom window over the largest tree that could be found. Stations often changed name everytime they went on air in an attempt to confuse the authorities. These stations were often named after women in the lives of the broadcaster in the tradition of the naming of Radio Caroline.
Radio Aquarius Various MW
This was a station name used by Ken Sheehan before he launched Radio Blacliath which would later become Radio Dublin.
Radio Atlantis
Radio Atlantis was one of the first stations set up in 1964 by Davitt Kelly. The station was located on Upper Mount Street but was raided and closed by the Gardai on December 18th 1964. Kelly was fined £1 for his illegal broadcasting exploits.
Irish Press December 24th 1964
Radio Baile Atha Cliath 225m MW
The transmitter and studio were located on Mourne Road, Drimnagh the home of Ken Sheehan. Launched in 1966 the station only broadcast for a couple of hours on a Sunday and apart from Ken the only other voice heard on the station was Roger Lloyd known on air as Prince Terry. In 1968, Sheehan was getting bored with the station and handed over the running of it to Prince Terry who moved the station to his home in Crumlin and renamed it Radio Static.
Radio Jacqueline 227m MW
Radio Jacqueline opened in December 22nd 1966 with Davitt Kelly, Ken Sheehan and Jack O’Carroll at the helm.
Radio Juliet 210m MW
This was one of the first pirates operated in Cork City. The station operated by a number of students in June 1964 grabbed newspaper headlines throughout the country when it first went on air. When interviewed one of the students said that some of their broadcasts were in the Irish language stating “One third of the announcements were made in Irish, he said, and this was an ideal way of promoting the language”. The students had aliases on air that were all from Shakespearian plays with the head of the station known as ‘Romeo’. The station was actually operated by Michael Healy who reportedly move the transmitter built in a biscuit tin around the city on the back of an old motorbike. (
Radio Showband 197m MW
With the backing of a showband and dance hall promoter, the station went on air on January 25th 1965 using a transmitter that had been smuggled in from Northern Ireland. The station was used to promote the growing number of Showbands playing around the country with the station complaining that ‘Radio Eireann provided no airtime for quality Irish music.’
Radio Romeo 300mMW
Romeo went on air on July 3rd 1965 broadcasting on Tuesday’s and Saturdays from a house in Clontarf. On July 20th the station was raided. As a result of the court case that followed on January 18th 1966, Thomas Rogers, the owner of the house, his son Michael aged 19 and Brian Clancy were found guilty of illegal broadcasting and fined one schilling each.
Radio Santa Monica 253m MW
This station operated sporadically from 1965 until the 1970’s with Mike Walker at the helm.
Radio Veronica 196m MW
One of the stations operated by Declan Meehan and operated occasionally from 1967 to 1971.

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