Monday, 20 June 2016

Radio Dublin, Eamon Cooke and Lugs Brannigan PART ONE

Although the origins of Radio Dublin can be found in the 1960’s, Radio Dublin as a force and popular station only began in the seventies with the arrival of two men at the station Eamonn Cooke and Don Moore. The stations colourful history then straddles three decades.

In November 1991, Radio Dublin held its twenty first birthday party at the Dublin Lord Mayor’s home on Dawson Street. Radio Dublin had become the oldest continuous music station in Ireland despite the fact that for all its existence it was completely illegal. Radio Dublin would continue to break records as being the longest pirate radio station on air in the world. At the time of its party in the Mansion House, Radio Dublin was broadcasting on 101mhz and 98.9mhz FM and famously with a five hundred watt transmitter on 252m medium wave.

Radio Dublin began life as Radio Blacliath broadcasting from the Mourne Road home of Ken Sheehan. Along with Prince Terry, the station came to life on 217mMW every Sunday afternoon. The station was part of ‘The United Dublin Stations’ that included Radio Eamo, Radio Galaxy, Radio Jacqueline and Radio Blacliath using a mailing address for QSL’s and reception reports in Brighton, England. By 1968, Sheehan had lost interest in the station and handed over operations to Prince Terry who renamed the station as Radio Static. The Prince moved the station to his home in Crumlin and renamed the station once more to Radio Dublin.  Over the next couple of years the station broadcast intermittently until 1974 when Dermot Blake who had been involved in Radio Valleri breathed new life into the station now broadcasting from Blake’s home in Drumcondra.

In March 1975 Radio Dublin found a new man at the helm, Don Moore. Moore who proclaimed himself on air as Doctor Don was using Radio Dublin’s transmitter and frequency but announcing himself as Westside Radio. Moore then changed the name back to Radio Dublin and found the 253 frequency that would become synonymous with the station for decades after.

The transmitter failed and Moore took it to a television repair shop on Thomas Street owned by Eamonn Cooke. By June 1976 Moore and Cooke were running the station every Sunday. On June 12th that year, the station called on its listeners to join a protest march through the city centre in support of the pirate stations. Over one thousand young people marched from O’Connell Street to Dail Eireann, the Irish Parliament building on Kildare Street.

On July 31st 1976 a new station appeared on the airwaves on 217mMW announcing itself as Alternative Radio Dublin. The station was being operated by Declan Meehan, Mark Storey and Davitt Kelly. In August they changed the name to Radio Cleo but a month later it was once again broadcasting as Alternative Radio Dublin.

On September 15th 1976 Radio Dublin was raided by Department of Post and Telegraph officials and Gardai. Despite the raid on Moore’s home the station was quickly back on the air. The following February Moore and Cooke decided to change the format of the station moving from playing music of the 60’s to modern pop songs. The young listening public were happy that there was an alternative to RTE or trying to listen to Radio Caroline from the North Sea or Radio Luxembourg. The authorities were not quite so happy and on February 20th raided the station again. An elaborate plan using a decoy transmitter fooled the raiding party but the second raid in such a short space of time rattled the eccentric Moore. On the Saturday afternoon following the raid, Moore went to the entrance to the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, doused himself in petrol and set fire to himself. He smoldered rather than burned and was dealt with quickly by the emergency services. The next day Radio Dublin closed.

The station reopened on May 29th 1977 broadcasting from 3 Sarsfield Road, Inchicore Cooke’s home. When Moore turned up after being released from the hospital he was denied access. Moore refused to allow this setback keep him off the airwaves. By June, Moore was back on the air with his own station broadcasting on 254m MW and announcing himself as ‘Old Radio Dublin’. Despite their growing differences, both men appeared together in District Court Number 2 to answer charges relating to the September 15th raid. Cooke gave evidence that the equipment confiscated during the raid could have been used for purposes other than broadcasting. The Judge asked the prosecutor if this was possible and he reluctantly agreed that it was. The court imposed a fine on the two men for illegal broadcasting but ruled that the equipment taken in the raid should be returned to the defendants. A loophole had been found in the law. Moore teamed up with those behind ARD and the station broadcast from Moore’s home. Incidents such as sabotage break in, intimidation and finally an intentional head on collision between Moore’s and Cooke’s cars led to a widening of the rivalry.

That Christmas Cooke attempted to put the events of the previous year behind him and announced that Radio Dublin would be broadcasting non stop over the festive period. The then Lord Mayor Michael Collins appeared on the station to wish the people of Dublin seasonal greetings. Buoyed by the success of his Christmas broadcasts Cooke announced that the station was extending its broadcasting hours to 8am – 7pm weekdays and non stop at weekends. The station was immediately raided on January 17th 1978 but refused to be beaten and were back on air with five hours of the raid. The station organised another march hoping for more than the thousand that turned out at the previous one. Four and a half thousand people marched the same route again on January 21st but the Government were unimpressed and the station was raided again on February 11th but this time Cooke had time to dispose of the transmitter before the Officials gained access to the station. The station continued without interruption for the next year with them making a cult hero among their young listeners of RTE newscaster Maurice O’Doherty as Radio Dublin would relay the RTE new bulletins as though they were their own even at times simply holding a transistor radio up to the studio microphone.  

In April 1978, Cooke accepted the offer from an advertiser of a paid holiday. In his absence there was a coup within the station. As soon as he had left the country the station DJ’s began announcing that the station was Big D Radio. Plans for a new studio and transmitter at a location on Chapel Lane just off Parnell Street were put into place. On the Sunday of Cooke’s return to Ireland, Radio Dublin’s 253 frequency was silent. Plotters James Dillon and Gerry Campbell went to the airport to meet Cooke and explained to him what was happening.

In the early hours on Monday morning Big D on 273m went on the air. Over the next couple of days allegation and counter allegation abounded around the city including charges of child molestation, destruction of property and sabotaging of equipment. When Cooke arrived back to his station he found that his transmitter had been burnt out and some studio equipment vandalised. Cooke used his ‘Captain’s News’ segment on a Sunday afternoon as a soap box for his unconventional views. The conspirators feared that he would used the following Sunday’s ‘News’ to vent against them and they listened intently but to most observers his reaction was muted although he answered all allegations made against him. Radio Dublin and Big D vied for listeners but Cooke would outlast his rival when the Big D Studios were burnt down on January 2nd 1979.

Cooke was never one to shy away from publicity or a battle with the authorities. In 1981 Cooke garnered extensive publicity when he battled the Department of Posts and Telegraphs to have his station’s telephone number listed in the Dublin directory. After threatening legal action, the Post Office relented and listed ‘Radio Dublin’ in their books, an illegal station that they were trying to close. On another occasion in 1980 he succeeded in getting advertising from the FCA, the Irish Military Reserve who were recruiting for members. The Minister for Defence demanded that the ads be removed but Cooke stated that ‘red tape’ at the station prevented this happening but as soon as the invoice for the adverts was paid the ads were withdrawn.

The station moved from Sarsfield Road to 58 Inchicore Road following an injunction taken out by a neighbour but the station was going from strength to strength. The station began to expand in the increasingly cluttered Dublin pirate radio scene. Radio Dublin added Channel 2 broadcasting on 240mMW and it became the first Dublin pirate to broadcast on FM in stereo. He also added a short wave 6910khz transmitter. In September 1980 a new challenge arrived in Dublin for Cooke. Robbie Robinson and Chris Cary had begun to put a high powered station together and this would be the beginning of the ‘super pirate’ era. These stations would be highly professional, modern and successful putting Radio Dublin into a lower league. Sunshine Radio began testing on 539mMW from a base in the Sands Hotel in Portmarnock. Cooke believed that it was wrong to allow foreigners especially a couple of Englishmen to take over the Dublin airwaves. The new stations mast was sabotaged with explosives and blame quickly landed at Cooke’s door. Despite his best efforts he could not prevent Sunshine and later Radio Nova taking to the air but he would outlast them.  

In February 1982 during a General Election campaign Cooke set up a radio station broadcasting on 101mhz FM for the ruling Fianna Fail party in the city centre headquarters. The political parties realised that the young vote were listening to the pirate stations and not their legal alternatives.

On March 8th 1983 Radio Dublin briefly ventured into pirate television. With a homemade transmitter, the station broadcast a Radio Dublin 253 logo and rebroadcast the radio service on the audio channel. The test transmissions only lasted one week as he was unable to overcome interference caused to Channel 4’s signal in the city.

In May 1983, the two big stations Sunshine and Nova were raided (the reasons for the raid are covered in those station’s history’s). Most of the other stations on air in Dublin and across the country closed in fear of further raids. Radio Dublin defiantly stayed on air challenging the authorities to ‘come and raid us’. Cooke opened his studios to the DJ’s from around the capital who were denied the opportunity to say goodbye to their loyal listeners. Cooke was delighted as here he was the centre of attention despite the fact that his ramshackle shoestring station was constantly overshadowed by the powerful transmitters, professional formats and profitable signals of Sunshine and Nova.

By 1988 it became apparent that the Government were serious about regulating the airwaves with the introduction of the 1988 Wireless Telegraphy Act. The Government gave the pirate stations until December 21st 1988 to wide up their operations but Cooke announced that he would be yet again defying the law and staying on air. Most stations across the country switched off their transmitters and although Radio Dublin went silent on FM their medium wave transmitter continued.  The cheap clock on the wooden partitioned wall ticked relentlessly towards midnight. The heat and body odour in the small cramped windowless studio was at times unbearable. As many as could fit wanted to be close to Gerry Marsden. He was sitting uneasy on the seat in front of the microphone. Every time he looked around there was another familiar face. There was a huge air of anticipation, anxiety and defiance within those gathered. Radio Dublin’s 253metre medium wave transmitter hummed a lone voice in the city with New Years Eve 1988 disappearing into the history books. 

As midnight approached the turntable spun the disc ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which was followed by one of the familiar station jingles and then Vera Lynn’s World War Two classic ‘We’ll Meet Again’. An old fashioned C60 tape cassette was activated and a prerecorded sketch about a man and his cat supposedly closing down the station and putting the milk bottles out aired across the city. This was followed by Noel Purcell’s Dublin ditty ‘Ring a Ring a Rosie’. The station continued on air on medium wave defying the Government.

It had been a hectic couple of days for Cooke. He had decided not only to fight the law by staying on air but also to challenge the legality of the new legislation through the courts. Cooke sought an injunction against the Minister for Communications in the High Court about the constitutionality of the Act and the creation of the Irish Radio and Television Commission. He applied for the injunction on the basis of unfair treatment. This claim stemmed from the stay of execution of closure given to the TV deflector broadcasters in the rural areas of the country who were allowed to stay on air until legal alternatives were in place thus avoiding a vacuum. Cooke was supported in his challenge by the Irish Broadcasters Association. Mr. James Gillhooly B.L. on behalf of Radio Dublin argued that the WTA 88 infringed on the rights of the individual under the Constitution, that it breached The Treaty of Rome, that the Act inhibited the freedom of expression and communication of the individual under the Constitution and that in closing the station it would be depriving over twenty people of employment in a time when unemployment was a growing problem within the country.

The action in the High Court failed but the President of the High Court Mr. Justice Liam Hamilton gave Cooke to challenge the constitutionality of the Act by way of a judicial review. Mr. Justice Hamilton said hat for him to grant an injunction would be
            ‘unwarranted interference by the judiciary with the functions of the legislators and executive.’
Despite this setback, Cooke spoke to reporters outside the court and stated that he would stay on air and that any case taken against him for illegal broadcasting would be challenged.

On New Years Day, Radio Dublin continued with continuous music only but on Monday January 2nd returned with live programming and once again broadcasting on FM and medium wave. Two days later the Government initiated action against the station but not as a direct raid, thus avoiding any embarrassing court cases that might delay the independent commercial stations going on air. Prohibition orders were served on the ESB (electricity) and An Bord Telecom (telephones) to sever their services to the stations studios in Inchicore. The next day Radio Dublin moved FM frequency to 101mhz, Sunshine Radio’s old frequency using many of Sunshine’s jingles for that frequency allowing Cooke to gloat over the departure of Robbie Robinson’s station. The station advertised for new DJ’s and circumvented the ban on advertising by thanking the stations ‘sponsors’ for donated monies towards the stations legal fund.

On January 18th, the mandatory fourteen days after the order was served, electric and phone services were cut. Cooke immediately sough an injunction from the High Court  against the Department of Communications and the ESB to have his utility restored because Cooke claimed it was inhumane to deprive a person of electric power. Mr. Justice Lynch granted a temporary injunction pending the judicial review and ordered the ESB to restore power which they did. During the brief blackout the FM transmitter went off but the medium wave was powered by an external generator. Seven days later Cooke appeared in the High Court seeking an extension of the injunction. This was rejected and Cooke appealed the decision to the highest court in the land, The Supreme Court. On February 6th his appeal was heard and dismissed. Mr. Justice Walsh said that Radio Dublin was in effect seeking an injunction which would have allowed him to continue to broadcast even though that was clearly against the law. Outside the court Cooke defiantly vowed to keep his station on the air.

Just after six a.m. on Tuesday February 7th, The Department of Communications officials backed up by Gardai raided the station and seized the transmitter and assorted studio equipment. Cooke was defiant telling the press at lunchtime that Radio Dublin would be back on the air within hours. Later that afternoon the FM transmitter was back on air on low power. Cooke also told the press that negotiations were at an advanced stage with Texan broadcaster John English to launch a broadcasting ship off the coast of Dublin but when contacted Mr. English said that although negotiations had taken place there was no chance of an agreement.

Three days after the raid at 10am, officials and engineers arrived from the ESB to carry out the Minister’s termination orders. The on air DJ explained to listeners what was happening and pleaded with them to ring the then Minister, Ray Burke TD and Mr. P.J. Moriarty, Chairman of the ESB. The cables were cut and the station went off air.

An hour and half later Cooke arrived at the station with a generator and the transmitter was back on air. The first song played was ‘Nothin Ain’t Gonna Stop Us Now’ and was dedicated to ‘Ray in Dail Eireann’. At three thirty the telephone connection was severed. Cooke knew that another raid was likely and a notice on the studio wall reminded presenters that
            ‘in the event of a raid, read the following script and close the station down after alerting Eamonn Cooke…This is Radio Dublin 101FM we are about to be raided and closed down. We will return to air as soon as possible. If you wish to complain about the closure contact your local TD. Thank you.’

At 7.30am on Saturday February 11th the station was raided again. A minimum of equipment was taken and the station was back on air the next morning. The station appealed to former pirate station owners to donate any spare transmitters they might have. That lunchtime Cooke went on air with his regular ‘Captains News’ and explained that the station would continue for the time being on FM only and that the medium transmitter would go back on air when ‘things quietened down’ the 253 transmitter never went back on the air.

On February 27th after a couple of weeks of sporadic programming the station returned with a full schedule. Following the raids a court case was pending. The case was due to be heard on October 23rd 1991 but according to the station’s then manager Joe Doyle, Garda McGrath from Kilmainham Station arrived at the studios to serve summons but despite spending eight hours sitting outside the station to serve the summons, the defendants conveniently did not show. For the next two days an unmarked police car was parked outside the station from 8am to 9pm but they were still unable to serve the summons. The case was adjourned on a number of occasions as the summons could not be served. In January 1992 Cooke presented himself to the Gardai at Kilmainham Station but was told he was no longer wanted. The law stated that from the time of arrest to the serving of the summons only two years can elapse and the time had elapsed.

On April 7th 1990, the station was raided yet again in an attempt to put it off the air. The Officials and the Gardai arrived at Inchicore to discover the station unoccupied with a tape running through the night. At 7.27am, Joe Doyle realised that there was a problem when the signal went off air. By the time Cooke and Doyle arrived at the station much of the equipment had been dismantled and was being loaded into Garda vans parked in the driveway. Some of the equipment was being gathered in the garden area awaiting transportation, station personnel began ‘to lift’ the equipment. As Cooke himself put it,
            ‘our equipment either walked or was taken away by a spacecraft that landed in the front garden’. At 10.30am the raiding party departed. An hour later a mixer had been retrieved from a drain at the back of the house and a back up transmitter in 100.4mhz sourced and Radio Dublin Love Songs 101 was back on the air. Doyle announced to listeners that there had been a raid but that the station would recommence normal programming later that day. At 3pm Doyle announced
            ‘this is Love Songs 101 Radio Dublin back on air and up your Ray.' The timing of the raid initiated sympathy amongst the Dublin public as it came in the middle of the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis and Radio Dublin Easter egg appeal for underprivileged children.

The next month, Minister Ray Burke announced plans to close 2FM (the renamed RTE Radio 2) as a primarily pop music station. Radio Dublin came out in support of 2FM throughout the days after the Minister’s announcement. The station played many of the artists who had become stars due to RTE 2. They also plugged a telephone number for an Evening Herald poll in support of Radio 2.
As a result of the raids and neighbour complaints the station moved from Inchicore to a shed at the back on Cooke’s new home at Wheatfields, Clondalkin in June 1990. Over the years Cooke and Radio Dublin had many violent encounters were other station operators as they attempted to impose their opinions and dogma on the FM band. Cooke saw himself as an enforcer, a wavelength vigilante.The Scull & Bone Radio System was a small pirate station originally went on air on FM with a three watt transmitter before moving to medium wave on ten watts of power. In 1976 the Post Office officials came close to raiding the station and so they closed only to reopen on short wave broadcasting on 6265Khz. On September 24th 1977 the station went off air following vandalism at the stations transmitter and studio site. While no one admitted responsibility suspicions fell on Radio Dublin as a station sticker was found at the station following the break in. 

KELO was launched by Davitt Kelly in April 1981 broadcasting a diet of Country and Western music. The station was a successor to Caroline 239 and located in a shed in Swords. The station ran foul of Radio Dublin owner Eamonn Cooke because of its proximity on 244m MW to Radio Dublin’s Channel 2 transmitter broadcasting on 246mMW. The stations studio was sabotaged but they stayed on air. Sabotage was rife in the city with much of it orchestrated by Radio Dublin attempting to put the competition off the air, this was known as ‘Antenna Worm’ or ‘Aerial Rot’ if the aerial was cut down.

In June the transmitter was stolen and although Cooke denied on air that he had anything to do with it, he was able to describe the missing transmitter in detail. He said on his infamous ‘Captain News that he had complained to KELO about the interference and that the station should move frequency but that ‘after sometime patience gets exhausted.’ The station disappeared from the airwaves until it re-emerged broadcasting from Phibsboro in January 1983 on 193mMW but its return was short lived.

Smile FM opened after a small breakaway from Radio Dublin who would allegedly raid the station one night and take back turntables they believed were theirs. Smile was operated by Johnny Eccles from his home in Ballyfermot and broadcast on 94.3mhz announcing 94.

In April 1991, a transmitter located in the Dundrum area began to relay Radio Dublin’s programming. A message was sent to them by Joe Doyle live on air that if they did not stop this relay
            ‘some of the lads would go around for ‘a chat and a cup of tea’’ a thinly veiled threat against the operator. On another occasion at 2.30am on Alive 106 the following was recorded,
            ‘Good evening Radio Dublin. We’ve all heard about you and what you do and we’re all very amused. Now one thing, to Radio Dublin, listen to our dead carrier and copy it. If you can we’ll give you one hundred quid’
Alive 106 goes silent except for the hum of the transmitter.
            ‘Our hundred quid is safe. Well I’m laughing all the way to the bank.’
The following Sunday during the ‘Captains News’ Joe Doyle reacted to the broadcast of Alive.
            ‘I was listening to Alive during the week and well we could sue their asses off in court for some of the things they were saying and for using Radio Dublin’s name without any justification. Derek Murphy doesn’t bother us at all because there is a difference. Radio Dublin…by the way you own us one hundred quit…(dead carrier). There’s a decent carrier. The difference between ourselves and Derek is Radio Dublin owns its own building, Derek works out of his Daddy’s house. Radio Dublin has two medium wave transmitters, Derek has one little FM. We have five FM’s, a one kilowatt, two three hundred watts, one 100 hundred watt and a thirty watt. Derek has one FM on five watts. Radio Dublin has three stereo encoders, I don’t know if Derek has one. Radio Dublin has its own equipment, I don’t know if Derek even own his own equipment. That’s the difference. We don’t have to go on air slagging people and we don’t have to go on air giving out about people and we don’t have to go on air to be snotty. Derek we don’t rely on the fellow around the corner to relay us. There you are Derek put that in your fax machine and type it away somewhere.’ The verbal allegations and counter allegation continued for some weeks over the airwaves.

In early 1993 another station fell foul of the ‘Captain’. Artane Independent Radio (AIR) began broadcasting on 100.3mhz after the closure of Century Radio. Radio Dublin moved frequency from 99.7mhz to 100.3mhz but failed to inform AIR of the frequency change. Cooke said that he had no way of contacting AIR and informing that his move was temporary but he had no problem finding the station once AIR began jamming Radio Dublin’s signal. On Wednesday February 17th a transmitter came on relaying 98FM effectively blanking out Radio Dublin’s signal in many parts of the city. The next day the station was rebroadcasting RTE Radio One. On Sunday February 21st, Doyle explained to listeners the problems with their signal,
            ‘its now seems that this problem needs to be neutralised at once. Both transmitter sites of AIR FM have been located and identified and action will be taken to neutralise this problem unless it stops forthwith. Our intention was to briefly broadcast on 100FM while we sorted out some technical problems but I can tell you know without fear of contradiction that we will be staying on 100FM and that they, AIR FM can continue to jam us to their hearts content. This problem will be neutralised and there will be no more problems on 100FM.’
Soon after this statement was made live on air, the source of the interference was traced to a station identified as Groove FM broadcasting from the Hill Street area of the city. Having wrongly accused AIR FM of the interference and jamming, the following Sunday on the ‘Captains News’ Doyle stated,
            ‘drastic action would be taken to help them (Groove FM) to desist in this interference. We don’t sit back and say so what’ Groove FM listening to us in Hill Street, my friends you might clear up the problem there or we’ll have to clear it up.’
‘My methods of clearing it up are never appreciated’ added Cooke
‘Expensive’ said Doyle.

On May 16th 1991 at 10.50am engineers from the ESB on instructions from the Department of Communications severed the power to the station accidentally severed power to other customers who had nothing to do with the station. Just after midday, Telecom severed the telephone lines. Using a generator the station was back on the air within hours. The following Sunday Cooke said that he would be challenging the disconnection as the station had not been given the required fourteen days notice. He also announced plans to defiantly increase the transmitter power. In swipes at the then Minister Seamus Brennan TD (Fianna Fail), Doyle explained that,
‘little boys should not play with big footballers after all Mr. Brennan is only four foot something.’
He then urged voters in the up coming local elections not to vote for Fianna Fail adding,
‘how could you vote for a party, who when Eastern Block countries are gaining their freedom we are introducing Communist style censorship.’
In September 1991, Radio Dublin briefly returned on medium wave and on October 11th, a Frank Sinatra marathon coinciding with Sinatra’s concert in the Point Depot earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the station.

In August 1992, with medium wave gone forever, Radio Dublin became a licensed radio station in the United Kingdom in order to broadcast to Europe via satellite. Dublin legal station 98FM lodged an objection with the IRTC but it proved fruitless as Radio Dublin was operating under a UK licence. Radio Dublin broadcast between midnight and 8am across Europe including Ireland. In September 1994, Radio Dublin Channel 2 was back on air with a C&W format broadcasting on 94mhzFM. The station’s tenure on the airwaves was brief as it was raided and closed on October 6th 1994.

In 1997, the then sales manager at the station Alan Hunter left with Cooke claiming that he had disappeared with money already collected from advertisers. With Radio Dublin broadcasting on 100mhz, Hunter opened a station on 101mhz located in the Nutgrove area and announcing itself as Radio Dublin 101. Radio Dublin’s transmitter site was sabotaged and hostilities between the two stations escalated. Hunter’s station stayed on air but renamed itself as Hits and Memories 101. In December 1998 Radio Dublin changed format from a traditional pop station to broadcasting Irish and Country and Western music moving frequency slightly to allow for the arrival of Century Radio’s replacement as a national commercial station Radio Ireland.

In December 1999 another station manager left the station and planned to set up a rival station broadcasting on 103.5mhzFM. Cooke claimed that the manager had been accepting financial rewards without his knowledge to play certain records on the station. On Christmas Eve, the new station was heard testing located in the State Cinema in Phibsboro. On January 2nd, Cooke through his ‘news’ programme said
            ‘we’d prefer if this station came on air, short lived off course but we’d prefer if it came on. We hope that there are no storms that might knock things down’
Cooke discovered that the station owed money to the landlord of the building and in order for the debt to be paid, Cooke bought the transmitter from the landlord without the station owners’ knowledge.

So who was Cooke and how did the station end? Eamonn Cooke was born in Glasnevin, Dublin on November 4th 1936. He was educated at St. Vincent’s primary and secondary schools and spent two years in technical college. His first job was that of a clerical assistant but he qualified as an electrician and worked on contracts for the ESB and Dublin City Corporation. Cooke held strong Republican views and joined the IRA in the fifties.

In 1952, the O’Connell Monument in Glasnevin Cemetery was damaged by a homemade bomb. Three boys were quickly arrested, one of whom was brought before the courts. Aged 15, this ringleader was sentenced to 12 months probation. The first comes from the late great Shane MacThomais son of historian Eamon MacThomais,
"the youth in question went on to become a famous Dublin DJ in the 1970s and a convicted rapist in 2007. He paid the cemetery 30 shillings for the glass broken in the tower.”When he was being sentence in the juvenile court the judge said to him
 “you were before me two years ago for taking lead, was that to make bombs?”. He responded that “no, that was to sell!”

On February 18th 1957, he was arrested in Bray, County Wicklow after firing shots at Gardai while robbing a petrol station. Cooke who was then eighteen said that he did not realise the men in the car were Gardai when he fired his revolver. Cooke was found guilty and sentenced to five years penal servitude. At his trial physiatrist Dr. Mary Mulvanney said that although Cooke was not suffering from a mental illness he was not completely stable and recommended prolonged treatment. He was released after two years for good behaviour. 

In 1960 Cooke found employment as an outdoor aerial erector as these aerials were essential for the reception of British TV channels. In September 1965, Sean Colley (20) was charged with assaulting Cooke by pointing a rifle at him in the early hours of the morning. The arresting Garda was the famous or infamous Lugs Brannigan. Colley was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison. In 1971, Cooke opened a television repair shop on Thomas Street. He was scruffy in appearance often described as having holes in his shoes and trousers and Brian Johnson described him as
            ‘not wearing a suit more a carpet.’

He was egotistical and believed his own publicity and folklore that built up around him and his station. He would later be described in anatomical detail by his accusers who said that he stank of BO and strong non tipped cigarettes that always dangled from the side of his mouth. His white jaguar was a familiar sight around the city and in the driveway of the station. The company that ran Radio Dublin was originally incorporated in 1978 in Cardiff Wales and the same company was used in a licence application in 1999.

According to former Garda Gerry O'Carroll writing in the Evening Herald (13/06/2016) in the 1970s Cooke 'patrolled the streets of Dublin's south inner city in a battered Jaguar Mark 1. He even used a blue light on the top of his car to appear like an unmarked Garda car and deployed a CB radio to communicate with the Gardai in Dublin Castle. Incredibly he was even given a code sign 'Alpha Seven' an official Garda code designation in the                                                                                             city's 'A' district.

He was a volatile character who once pulled a gun on a DJ over a row about jingles. He was involved in explosions, sabotage and arson attacks over the years. He was married to Joan but in a newspaper article he claimed his wife called Jane had been molested by a priest from the age of ten. Cooke’s wife was thirty years his junior. He had married Jane at Blackpool Registry Office in 1989 when she was twenty three years old. When she married Cooke she was already the mother of three children and with Cooke she gave birth to nine more, five girls and four boys between 1990 and 2002.

In November 1984, Cooke organised the petrol-bombing of the home of John Paul O’Toole on the South Circular Road. O’Toole had worked at Radio Dublin but had been sacked. He was seen with Cooke’s former girlfriend who was the mother of his then three-year-old son. Cooke wanted revenge and so approached a number of men to carry out the attack.
In 1986, four men were charged in connection with the firebomb attack. They were Gerard McMullan (40), of Ballyfermot Drive; Eugene Geoghegan (40) of Donard Avenue, Blackhorse Avenue; Alan Callopy (33), Ballyfermot Drive and George Sneddon (33) of Glentow Road, Whitehall.
Cooke (49), of 58 Inchicore Road, pleaded guilty to conspiring to assault O’Toole and was given a four-year suspended sentence pleading with the judge not to hand him a custodial sentence.

When the split with Big D occurred there were rumours that Cooke was molesting young children at the studios. A tape was made at the request of James Dillon of a confession from one of the girls he abused Siobhan Kennedy. The tape was handed to a local curate who advised Ms. Kennedy’s parents to do nothing. In 1998, Cooke was questioned in relation to a sexual assault on a young boy but no charges were made. On July 14th 2000 after a number of statements were made to Detective Sergeant Gerry Kelly, Cooke was charged with 73 counts of sexual assault against boys and girls. In October 2000 a further fifty charges were added. Just before his trial the young body withdrew his allegations. In 2003, Cooke was convicted of attempted rape, unlawful carnal knowledge of four young girls after a sixteen day trial. Cooke would groom young children who were fascinated by the illegal radio station by offering them sweets, later known as Paedo Pellets or Weathers Originals. He also gave them 2p, 5p and 10p to sit on his lap as he fondled them and had them naked in the bed with him. The young girls were known euphemistically as ‘telephonists’. It would be ironic that Cooke would find himself in prison at the same time as former Communications Minister Ray Burke. (See Century Radio) In 1986, Cooke received a four year suspended sentence for fire bombing the home of a woman who at the age of fifteen had given birth to a son by Cooke and had been a child abuse victim of his but who had gone onto a new life with a new boyfriend.
(Suggested reading: Playing In the Dark by Siobhan Kennedy)

According to Paul Williams in the Independent (15/6/2016) at one stage
"When Gardai forced their way into the house, the officers found him (Eamon Cooke) semi-clothed sitting on a bed while the child was hiding behind a chair. The authorities were so concerned about Cooke's influence over his victim that they were forced to have her placed in care."

In 2006, his conviction was quashed as being unfair on the basis of a technicality. In March 2007 after a retrial Cooke was convicted of 42 counts of indecent assault on two young girls between 1976 and 1978. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and he lost an appeal on May 11th 2009.

Radio Dublin was raided in May 2003 and never returned to the airwaves. Former station manager Joe Doyle opened a new station broadcasting on 90.4mhz announcing itself as ICE FM (Irish County and Easy). The station staffed by Radio Dublin personnel was linked to Radio Dublin in the newspapers after Doyle appealed for funds for Cooke’s legal challenge against the station raids and he also broadcast an appeal from Cooke who was in prison. Doyle denied any connection with the imprisoned Cooke but the negative publicity was a death knell for the new station. Doyle then took the legal route and applied for a temporary licence which was granted in June 2004 when Irish Music Radio went on the air, this would later be licensed as County Irish Music Radio (CIMR) and later as Hot Country.