Saturday, September 22, 2018

Pirate.ie

Time to get involved

Blog of the Year Finalist 2018





After a number of years on the long list and then the short list, The Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame blog has made the finals at the 2018 Irish Blog Awards with the ceremony to be held in late October. The month will be a pivotal month in the history of the archiving of Irish broadcasting history. More details will be announced on October 2nd 2018. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

THE ROLE OF POLITCAL PIRATE RADIO STATIONS IN IRELAND

THE ROLE OF POLITCAL PIRATE RADIO STATIONS IN IRELAND
Delivered by Eddie Bohan at the Sarah Lungberg Summer School 2017

All pirates by their nature are political pirates as they seek to change the status quo of the airwaves.

The use of pirate radio to disseminate political propaganda goes back to the first embers of the Irish state. Former Government Minister Conor Cruise O’Brien quotes
“It was of course illegal, both under the domestic laws of the state in which occurred and under the international radio regulation then governing wireless telegraphy. It was also war propaganda, the transmission of words to win support for violent action, and like most war propaganda it was designedly inaccurate and misleading. The painful conclusion is I think inescapable broadcasting was conceived in sin. It is a child of wrath. There is no knowing what it may get up to.”

Pirate radio has had a profound influence on Irish politics and Irish history and these pirate radio broadcasts have ended a Government’s ability to retain power and hastened the end of a controversial politician. Without pirate radio Albert Reynolds, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowan may never have held the position of Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). Bold claims but facts back these up.

When Charlie Haughey called a General Election in June 1981 even if his Fianna Fail party had never achieved the landslide of his predecessor Jack Lynch in 1977, his party were hot favourite to return to power but enter pirate radio and in particular H Block Radio and Sinn Fein Radio. At the height of the hunger strike crisis in the Maze Prison and following the election of Bobby Sands as an MP to the British Parliament, the H Block movement ran or supported nine candidates in the June 1981 General Election but the as a result of the strict implementation of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act these candidates were denied access to the broadcast media. In many of the constituencies where these candidates ran, their local campaigns sourced transmitters and set up pirate radio stations to broadcast their campaign message and more importantly to encourage voters to come out and vote for their candidates.

The H Block candidates garnered 15% of the first preference vote. As a result Kieran Doherty in Cavan Monaghan who would later die on Hunger Strike and the election of Paddy Agnew denied Charles Haughey a route back into power and a Fine Gael Garret Fitzgerald led coalition came to power.

Pirate radio had by the late seventies and early eighties spread through cities, towns, villages and even parishes as a not fit for purpose 1926 Wireless Telegraphy was deemed flawed allowed illegal stations to flourish. The stations had been widely used during the campaign by the main political parties with many candidates being interviewed live on current affairs programmes. Despite their illegality, the professional pirate stations were ratings successes especially amongst the younger population. The Fine Gael/Labour coalition failed to hold onto power and another General Election was called for in February 1982 and by now super pirates like ERI in Cork and Sunshine Radio and Radio Nova in Dublin were topping the ratings and while many illegal stations adhered to Section 31 and refused to let Sinn Fein leaning candidates access to the airwaves political instability continued as Haughey returned to power with the support of Independents like Tony Gregory but once again by November that year his Government had collapsed and another general election would return a stable Fine Gael led coalition. But by November 1982 RTE were issuing ultimatums to politicians of all parties that if they appeared on pirate radio they would not be allowed onto the national airwaves.

Margaetta D’Arcy of Radio Pirate Woman in stated in an interview that they were breaking real taboos by ignoring censorship. ‘The political climate at the time was one of increased demonization of subversives. Government policy insisted that Sinn Fein be totally isolated and boycotted. Not only did the broadcasting act exclude its members from the airwaves but local politicians were forbidden by their parties to sit on committees with democratically elected Sinn Fein councillors. When giving airtime to Mary McGing we were effectively smeared as a ‘Provo front’ by every mainstream party in Galway.

Radio Pirate Woman on 107mhzFM was a feminist radio station that broadcast sporadically since March 8th 1989. The idea of Margareta D’Arcy the station has been located in Galway broadcasting by women for women and she also took on controversial subjects including travellers rights and Republican causes. The station earned the wrath of the Government of the day in its first year by broadcasting interviews with Republicans in contravention of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act.
Radio Saor Connemara - 188m was a pirate broadcaster set up in Connemara by a pressure group who was demanding an Irish language station. The title of the station translated as ‘Free Radio Connemara’ and broadcasts began on March 28th 1970. RTE had failed to increase the amount of airtime given to the native tongue as they were trying to accommodate all sections of society. It would be another two years before the Gaeltacht got their own legal station when Radio na Gaeltachta went on air on April 2nd 1972.

The west of Ireland wasn’t the only area demanding Irish language broadcasting and more pirates took to the air. In Dublin Radio Na Phobail on 200m opened in a blaze of publicity in December 1980. Broadcasting from studios located on Harcourt Street, the station was intended to be an all Irish language and music station. Unfortunately the station suffered from low power and technical setbacks and disappeared from the airwaves in the summer of 1981.

Radio Na Gael on 222mMW & 90.2mhzFM went on air on Easter Monday of April 1984. The station broadcast a diet of Irish traditional music and continued on air until December 1986 when RTE sought and injunction against the station claiming that their name closely resembled RTE’s Radio Na Gaeltachta forcing the station to close.

The Broadcasting Act was implemented by Fianna Fail Minister Gerry Collins and strengthened by Fine Gael Minister Conor Cruise O’Brien in 1977. The legislation prevented candidates of illegal paramilitary organisations such as The I.R.A. and Sinn Fein appearing on the airwaves. The operators of the illegal stations did not wish to antagonise the authorities and they too refused to allow candidates representing these organisations to appear on their stations. The use of Section 31 became farcical when television began showing people like Gerry Adams being interviewed but using an actor to dub the voice. In the Cavan - Monaghan Kieran Doherty was a candidate and a prisoner in the Maze Prison in Belfast and along with others including Bobby Sands were on hunger strike. Doherty's local organising committee set up their own pirate radio station to circumvent the ban on their candidate and provide his campaign with some valuable airtime. Doherty and another IRA prisoner Paddy Agnew in Louth were elected on June 11th 1981 as T.D’s thus preventing an over all majority to the incumbent Haughey Government. Doherty would die on hunger strike on August 2nd 1981.

The Haughey minority Government fell and a Fine Gael/Labour coalition lasted until February 1982 when a proposed tax on shoes brought down the Government. The candidates were still using the pirates especially those broadcasting in the rural towns.  Fianna Fail went one step further than advertising on pirate radio stations they set up one of their own. Election Radio broadcasted for the duration of the campaign on 102 MHz and was set up with equipment borrowed from Eamonn Cooke at Radio Dublin.

Radio Nova's first general election coverage was the February 1982 campaign although there had been an election in June 1981, Radio Nova had not yet established itself even though the political parties extensively used other pirate radio stations to get their various messages across to the voters. In February 1982 Radio Nova was used by the parties. Early in the campaign The Evening Herald reported that Fianna Fail were about to use Radio Nova for an extensive media campaign. The plan was that Nova newsreader David Harvey would interview a leading party candidate, Albert Reynolds, and that tape would be sent around the country to various radio stations for rebroadcast. The main opposition party Fine Gael condemned the Fianna Fail plans and the campaign was shelved. Reynolds did give an interview to Sunshine Radio.

Although officially most of the main parties avoided using the pirate radio stations under pressure from R.T.E., unofficially candidates still appeared on the stations and advertisements were ran. On one of Nova's current affairs programmes, Fine Gael candidate Jim Mitchell appeared along side the Provisional Sinn Fein candidate for the Dublin South Central constituency. This appearance of the Sinn Fein candidate was in direct contravention of Section 31. Nova claimed that this legislation only applied to R.T.E. but after the furore caused by this, Nova decided to refrain from giving further opportunities to illegal organisations.

Charles Haughey was back in power with the support of a number of Independents but the Government was short lived and the country went to the polls again in November 1982. Nine months is a long time in politics and so it was in Irish broadcasting. Pirate radio was now extremely successful not only in the capital but in regional cities like Cork, Limerick and Galway and even in smaller towns the pirate was king. The Mayor of Sligo Michael Carroll said of the pirates,
            ‘It may be illegal in the eyes of the law but it’s a great facility for the people of the town.’ Speaking in January 1982 Limerick’s Mayor commented
            ‘Some of them (the pirates) are giving a better service than RTE’.
But RTE had another trick up its sleeves when dealing with wayward politicians who in their eyes supported law breaking.

The main political parties had avoided using the pirates during the February 1982 campaign. The larger stations reduced their election coverage to news bulletins with coverage plagiarised from RTE's news service. The nearest many of the stations got to election coverage were advertisements ran advising people to go out and vote. As in other election campaigns, Sinn Fein opened their own radio station this time in Dublin but the station seemed to attract little attention.

As soon as the November 1982 election was called, the unions at R.T.E. issued an ultimatum to the politicians,
            "Go on the pirates and we at R.T.E. will permanently prevent you from appearing on R.T.E."
This was not a management decision but was taken by the unions who feared that the rising popularity of the pirates and the lacks of political will to tackle the problem would lead to job losses at the national broadcaster. The same ultimatum had been issued during the June election but had been ignored. A series of meetings between union representatives, RTE management and political handlers meant that candidates of the main political parties stayed clear of the pirates and their election coverage. The illegal stations were left with independent and community candidates to interview. For the bigger stations this was not the kind of election coverage that they had hoped for or that would draw large audiences. To be fair the candidates that they did interview would not have been granted airtime on RTE as the national broadcaster considered them to small to be given airtime.

During the November campaign one of the Dublin pirates was accused of a political 'con'. Sunshine Radio played a tape of an interview with Albert Reynolds T.D. but the station failed to inform the listeners that the interview had been recorded during the previous election campaign. As a result Mr. Reynolds could have been banned from R.T.E. but for the fact that Sunshine Radio later admitted that they omitted to inform their listeners that the interview was recorded at an earlier campaign.

At a press conference given by the Fianna Fail party at their headquarters on Mount Street during the campaign, a pirate radio station journalist who was attending the conference was asked to leave after R.T.E. staff attending the press conference objected to his presence.
            "Journalists turning on journalists" was how one newspaper described the events. This incident was characterised by a newspaper cartoon portraying the pirate radio reporter hiding under a table doing his report. Some of the pirate stations did try to recover some of the lost ground when the election count was taking place but the pressure had taken its toll and pirate stations would not be able to cover elections in the future to the same extent as they had in the past.

H Block Radio - 298mMW
Subversive organisations, paramilitaries and their political wings struggled to get their message on the airwaves as Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act forbade their appearance on radio and television. In 1979 through to 1981, IRA prisoners jailed in Belfast’s H Blocks were protesting seeking political status which the British Government of Margaret Thatcher continually refused. Their protest ranged from dirty protests when the smeared the cells with their own excreta and a number of hunger strikes. On December 6th 1980, Sinn Fein launched H Block Radio in Dublin to spread their propaganda but the station was sporadic and vanished from at airwaves in spring 1981. The group changed tactics after this by invading established pirate radio stations and broadcasting their material until they were ejected by Gardai.

Radio Na Fianna Eireann - 257mMW
This was the station name used by supporters of the IRA who seized the studios of Radio City on Capel Street. The seizure took place on April 23rd 1981 and ended when the Gardai forced their way into the premises.

Radio Sinn Fein- 295mMW
A station set up in the Leitrim constituency during the June 1981 General Election. The station was on air from June 18th -28th of that year. The candidate for that election was Joe McDonnell who died on hunger strike at the Maze prison.

Radio Sinn Fein - 200mMW
A station set up in the Waterford constituency during the June 1981 General Election. The station was on air from June 18th -28th of that year. The candidate for that election was Kevin Lynch who died on hunger strike at the Maze prison.

Radio Section 31 - 88mhzFM
This station was organised by supporters of a paramilitary organisation in January and February 1988 as members of prescribed organisations were banned from the national airwaves.

Gnomes of Ulster - 1556khzAM
Located in South Belfast GNU opened on June 20th 1972.This station seemed to have no political motivation the operators of the station found the name for the station from a Dutch anarchist group. Also known as GNU Radio

Radio Big Jim - 227mMW
This station was also known as Radio Ajax and went on the air after BBC Radio One went off the air from a location in Belfast.


In 1970 Saor Radio Connemara attempted to demonstrate the need for an Irish language radio stations aimed at the native speakers especially in the Connemara Gaeltacht. The Government eventually set up Radio Na Gaeltachta under the umbrella of RTE in 1972. In 1987 a similar campaign was initiated to have a television service created.  Operating from the community hall at Rosmuc, Co. Galway, Telifis Na Gaeltacht broadcasted programmes solely in the Irish language. The station went on air on Friday October 2nd 1987 and on that opening weekend broadcast programmes specially made for the station by filmmaker Bob Quinn. On opening night a gala concert held at the Community Hall was broadcast live on the station. That first Sunday saw the transmission of a special Mass from the local parish church dedicated to the memory of the late musician Sean O'Riada. The stations transmitter was built by Dubliner Norbert Payne and had a radius of fifteen miles. The idea for a pirate station dedicated to the native language came following a visit by some locals to the Faroe Islands off the coast of Scotland. This Danish controlled territory set up their own illegal television station Gothab TV following Copenhagen refusal to give them a station. Irish language television did not legally arrive in Ireland until 1996 when T na G (Telifis Na Gaeltacht) was launched.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Irish Pirate Radio - It's time to tell your story in your own words.


Join us for oral history recordings
October 20th 2-5pm
Ballsbridge Hotel Dublin 4
Free Tickets available at eventbrite.ie



30 years after the close down of the pirate radio stations let's celebrate the era that made radio so great in Ireland.

Join us in December 2018 on a radio with memories and more from 88 and before.

Send your questions to reception@radio.ie

Links: Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame - DX Archive -

Wireless on Flirt FM

Friday, September 14, 2018

Blog Awards Shortlist


Thank you.

Transnational Radio History from Ireland

This is the lecture I delivered to the Summer School on Transnational Radio History delivered at the University of Luxembourg in June 2018.

Ireland’s Export Radio
Eddie Bohan

Ireland’s location as an island on the western edge of Europe has offered our small nation a unique place in broadcasting history. While much of recognised transnational broadcasting has its origins in political, propagandist or subversive causes, Ireland’s contribution has in the main been purely a commercial exercise. Ireland has operated at times as an offshore studio for various operators, broadcasting to audiences outside its jurisdiction which has been both illegal and state sponsored.

Ireland has not exported ideas, political views or even national pride, nothing guaranteed Irish but Ireland simply exported commercial radio, broadcasting a diet of popular music, garnering more listeners, ratings and therefore advertisers. Not every station was a commercial success but some of the big ones, the so called super pirates were.

In 1916 during the iconic and momentous events of the Easter Rising, Ireland became the first nation in the world to be declared by radio and since that historic moment Irish broadcasting history has been chequered to say the least. Ireland’s first venture into broadcasting was not aimed at a domestic audience but an audience outside the jurisdiction. [1]

Following the arrival of a state broadcaster in the guise of 2RN in 1926, the Irish state added a powerful 10KW transmitter located in Athlone which opened for the 1932 Catholic Church’s Eucharistic Congress.This powerful transmitter’s coverage allowed all of Ireland to listen to 2RN later to be renamed Radio Eireann but it also provided an opportunity for the Government to generate much needed finances for cash starved State broadcaster.

According to a January 1933 edition of the Irish Radio News magazine, a new entity The International Broadcasting Company was formed ‘to handle the advertisement side of the station’s activities’. The then Irish Minister for Posts and Telegraphs signed the contract with The IBC on August 23rd 1933.

The IBC was the brainchild of entrepreneur and British Conservative MP Leonard Plugge. He had identified a new radio market with programmes aimed at the British audiences from transmitters located outside that jurisdiction. His first venture was Radio Normandie which was initially a small low powered private radio station located in the North of France. Under his direction, a high powered transmitter was installed and broadcasts were aimed at London and the South of England. Lord Reith who ran BBC Radio at that time believed that Sunday broadcasts from the Corporation should be of a sedate, religious nature and this opened up an opportunity for Plugge to launch a commercial alternative. Normandie was extremely popular with listeners and advertisers. The station proved to be a major challenge for the BBC and it was only the intervention of the Second World War that curbed the private broadcasting boom. A second station opened to broadcast into London and that was Radio Luxembourg located in the Grand Duchy which would continue on its famous 208 frequency into the 1980s.

Plugge increased the availability of his sponsored programmes into the western half of Britain especially to cities like Manchester and Liverpool by utilising the new powerful Athlone transmitter. He rented airtime in the evenings from 9 – 11pm and to sweeten the pot for the capitalistic Plugge, Radio Eireann extended the available hours from November 1933 to include 1-4pm on Sunday afternoons. There were however many complaints within Ireland about the programming especially both the music being played and the products being advertised and as the contract expired on May 22nd 1934 it was not renewed by the Government. The sponsored programmes ceased except for one who did a direct deal with the Irish Government it being the infamous Irish Hospital’s sweepstakes. They knew from their research that the broadcasts were working in the UK as sales of their tickets continued to soar and so continued to sponsor a half hour show each night from ten o’clock. [2]

Generating finance was at the heart of these broadcasts into Britain as both Plugge and his IBC were selling advertising and Radio Eireann was making money from selling the airtime. The cost for Plugge’s sponsorship was listed as £120 per hour, £70 for a half hour, £55 for 20mins or £45 for 15minutes. The Irish Government’s decision to sell airtime meant that from earning £220 in advertising revenue in 1932, a year later the station had earned £22,000, a lifeline for the cash strapped station. Unfortunately for the station itself this new found wealth came at a price as the Government reduced the percentage of the licence fee paid to the station to finance its operations. 

In July 1938, Robert Silvey [3]who had been hired by the BBC to analyse listener research, secretly reported to his bosses at Portland Place, BBC Headquarters that Radio Athlone’s largest proportion of listeners was not in Ireland but in the North West of England in Liverpool and Manchester this was attributed to the sponsored programmes and the ex-pat community in those areas. As a result of these findings and to compete with the success of Radio Athlone, the BBC’s Northern Regional transmitter network and finances were significantly expanded.

Transnational broadcasting is often closely associated with Radio Luxembourg and the pirate radio ship Radio Caroline broadcasting from international waters into Britain. Caroline has a deeply Irish connection as its founder Ronan O’Rahilly is Irish born and a grandson of the 1916 Easter Rising leader Michael O’Rahilly. The original Caroline ship was fitted out as a radio station at Greenore Port in Co. Louth near Dundalk owned by Ronan’s family. In fact two ships were fitted out in the port at the same time Radio Caroline and Radio Atlantis.

In 1968 Ireland signed up to the European agreement for the prevention of broadcasting transmitted from stations outside national territories. This Act was designed to scupper any plans to launch a pirate radio ship off the coast of Ireland broadcasting into the west coast of Britain. Broadcasting it was feared would quickly become chaotic in the absence of orderly allocation and use of the wavelengths available. The misappropriation of frequencies by pirate stations would not be tolerated. Frequencies and stations would then be subject to Government control and if any of them caused serious interference to services in another country, the matter could then be raised through official channels at the EBU and ITU. According to the Irish Government at the time the Act was required to honour our obligations under the Council of Europe Agreement, to safeguard the effectiveness of our emergency services and communications, to protect the rights of artists, performers, et cetera, and the financial survival of our broadcasting service. It is aimed, not at “pop” or any other kind of programmes, but simply at unregulated broadcasting by people responsible to nobody but themselves.[4]

Despite the fears that pirate radio ships raised for the Irish Government an inertia crept in and a 1926 Act became unfit for purpose which allowed pirate radio stations to proliferate and thrive across Ireland. The border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland was not just a contentious border (and still is) between two nations but also a border between two different broadcasting regimes. In the six counties the listener’s choice in the 1980’s was BBC Radio Northern Ireland and the commercial Downtown Radio. The border counties of Louth, Cavan Monaghan and Donegal became the new Mi Amigo’s of broadcasting as entrepreneurs began to set up pirate radio stations with studios and transmitters located just south of the border beaming their transmissions into Northern Ireland tapping into a lucrative advertising market monopolised by Downtown Radio.

In the 1980’s the Irish Government began receiving high level complaints from the British authorities and those in Belfast regarding this new threat referred to as ‘border blasters’. These illegal stations also attracted the wrath of the authorities at the European Broadcasting Union who complained that the Irish Government at the time were doing nothing to close these stations and demanded that they take immediate steps to prevent these stations aiming their illegal signals across a border into another nation in a clandestine attempt to garner advertising revenue to the detriment of in situ stations. This perhaps seemed slightly ironic as the same EBU turned a blind eye to the likes of the U.S. who funded Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe who beamed their propaganda signals into Russia from Europe. [5]

The Government assured their European counterparts that legislation was being prepared but internal and unstable politics at the time would put of legislation replacing the outdated 1926 Acts until 1988 when a new Wireless Telegraphy Act. Some of the stations that were deemed border blasters included Borderside Radio broadcasting from Castleblaney County Monaghan, Breffni Radio in Cavan and Radio Carousel in Dundalk all broadcasting into Northern Ireland.

Kiss FM began broadcasting in March 1985 to Craigavon in Northern Ireland and was the brainchild of Miles Johnson[6]. The station immediately came under pressure from the authorities in Northern Ireland and they decided to move their operation south of the border. Their transmitter was relocated to the Broughton Mountains in Co. Monaghan and studios in Monaghan Town. Their five kilowatt transmitter directed the station’s signal into Belfast. When the new stricter Wireless Telegraphy Act was introduced in late 1988 Kiss made their last broadcast at 6pm December 30th 1988. The final words were left with station manager and former Radio Caroline, Nova and Sunshine broadcaster Tom Hardy. As six o’clock approached he delivered a list of thanks to those involved and advertised who had assisted the stations. Hardy quoted lyrics from their final song by the Christians,
Before you point the finger
And hope the whole thing disappears
Remember empty words will fall
And fall upon the deafest ears

(As they saying goes ‘there was still money in them there hills’ advertising money and Kiss returned to the airwaves in January 1989 despite the new stricter legislation broadcasting once again into Northern Ireland from transmitters located in both Monaghan and Louth but following pressure from the Department of Communications the station closed voluntarily in May.)
Yet in January 1989 Kiss was on air again this time from within Northern Ireland but when the British DTI raided the stations transmitter site at Tamry Hill in County Down they moved their operation yet again back to the southern side of the border. In 2003 it ran foul of the law again and according to a Irish Independent newspaper report (August 16th 2005)
Robert Watters, Edentubber was accused of making his premises available and enabling/permitting his electricity to be used by the unlicensed broadcasters of Kiss FM and Wild FM. Niall McCaughey, an authorised officer with the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) told Justice Brennan that a defunct system previously used to broadcast Kiss FM was found to be interfering with landing procedures at Belfast City Airport.
Mr. McCaughey visited Edentubber on March 21st 2003 and monitored radio signals and discovered unlicensed broadcasts coming from a site on land that Watters was looking after for his cousin.
(However, on September 22nd 2004 the commission received a complaint from OFCOM in the UK stating that the airport in Belfast was receiving interference and that they traced the source to Edentubber.
Mr. McCaughey determined that the interference was coming from the property he visited previously and once again called to Edentubber. Two stations, Wild FM and Kiss FM had been broadcasting from the site but the latter was now no longer airing and it turned out that a faulty transmitter was causing the interference. Mr. McCaughey obtained a search warrant from Ardee District Court and entered the lands and switched off the transmitter. He was then able to confirm that the interference subsequently stopped.)

Another powerful station broadcasting from the Republic into Northern Ireland with its signal aimed at Belfast was KITS on FM & AM and was the brainchild of Frank McCarthy. Located again in County Monaghan the station name came from the fact that McCarthy built transmitters and had bits of ‘kit’ lying around the house. He managed to get a jingle package from a similar station in San Francisco and was air from 1987 until December 1988. McCarthy himself was accidentally killed while working on a transmitter in 1998. Some of the staff at the station included Gareth O’Connor who is now a TV news producer at TV3 and David Blevins who is the Northern Ireland correspondent for Sky News. Paul Buckle who worked at the station remembered that KITS ‘when it was good it was very very good, when it was bad it was bloody awful but still a fun station to listen to.’ [7]

Riverside 100.9mhzFM was operated by Frank McLaughlin located south of the border, but with the station's broadcasts were aimed at Derry stroke Londonderry. At one point the Irish Department of Communications backed up by member of the Gardai arrived to raid the station but the operators had been tipped off and fled across the border into Northern Ireland. Steve Marshall who worked for the station at that time recounted,
‘One day we received a visited from the Dublin based Department of Communications. The transmitter itself was located on a raft in a river, which straddled the border, although the studios were located within Derry City boundaries. The DOC and Gardai (the Irish Police force) turned up with their jeeps only to be told by me that they did not have any jurisdiction in Northern Ireland. We called the RUC, (The police from Northern Ireland) and the funniest sight was the man from the DOC trying to tell the RUC Sergeant where the Border was.’
 The station was eventually raided and closed in June 1991.

Energy 106 had their site located at Greagh in North County Monaghan known locally as Alien Mountain. Energy operated a 6kW transmitter. The station was closed in 2005 following a raid from Comreg[8] after pressure from the British authorities to tackle the issue.

Even with the new legislation in 1988 pirate stations continued to be launched to broadcast into Northern Ireland. Magic 105 began broadcasting on November 15th 1999 with its last broadcast on 11 May 2007 when the station's transmitter was seized by the Irish authorities from the Brougan Mountains, close to the original site used by many border blasters.

At time the state broadcaster put pressure on the Government to tackle pirate radio yet the national station became the criminal in the eyes of many in Europe. RTE had been granted the long wave frequency of 254khz by the European Broadcasting Union. In 1984, Chris Cary made an audacious attempt to use the frequency to set up a powerful station to broadcast into the British mainland. Cary, a former Radio Caroline DJ had set up the successful yet illegal Radio Nova in Dublin in 1981 quickly garnering a 40% share of the listening audience and with the lax and porous Irish laws Nova blossomed into the most successful and exciting radio station in Dublin.

Cary saw an opportunity for his Nova brand to access the UK market and opened advertising sales offices on Church Street, Liverpool with the station announcing that it was ‘broadcasting from Dublin’ instead of ‘broadcasting to Dublin’ but following raids on the station reverted to the ‘to Dublin’ slogan. Radio Nova was broadcasting British news weather and traffic reports. As one Irish commentator put it, ‘what would a guy in inner city Dublin want to know about the traffic jams in the West Midlands of England’.

Cary continued efforts to break into the lucrative British market with his longwave experiment Radio Exidy, its transmitter located at Clogherhead, County Louth carried out test transmissions but pressure from the Irish Government forced him to abandon the plans. In 1986 RTE announced it intended to use the frequency and in 1988 announced a partnership with Radio Luxembourg to launch Radio Tara Limited with RTE owning 20% of the company. The station would broadcast into Britain as Radio Luxembourg did, as in 1988 Britain had no national commercial radio stations (Classic FM first aired September 7th 1992). A thousand foot mast and powerful fifty kilowatt transmitter was installed at Clarkestown County Meath. Studios were built at Mornington House at the nearby village of Trim and cost almost six million pounds to put on the air. The station was not popular with the locals who protested and took unsuccessful High Court challenges to stop the station. But just after 8am on September 1st 1989 Gary King became the first voice heard on Atlantic 252 and Tears for Fear’s hit ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ the first song played. The station became an instant success with DJ’s like Charlie Wolf, Hollywood Haze and the Pizzaman. By 1995 and with Radio Luxembourg 208 now closed (1991) the station was announcing four million listeners and net profits of £2.5m but the arrival of national commercial stations in Britain especially on the better quality FM, the future of longwave was limited. In January 1989, sabotage was suspected at the transmitter site and a very strong local campaign against the sitting of the high powered transmitter and its possible health risks in Trim saw the station going to the Supreme Court but the campaign faltered

In 2000 Radio Luxembourg announced it was pulling out of the UK market and in October 2001 Atlantic 252 was sold to Teamtalk Radio for £2m with the station's last pop broadcast at 5p.m. on December 20th 2001. The last show on Atlantic was a Tribute show produced by Enda Caldwell and Eric Murphy celebrating the station's 12-year history of broadcasting and featuring classic airchecks of each year of Atlantic 252's history. The station then transitioned to automation, and continued broadcasting music without continuity, along with pre-booked commercials, until 12 midnight on 2 January 2002, when transmissions ceased.

One former presenter Robin Banks, more familiar today as the voice over for ‘Mythbusters’ said:
“I didn’t realise until years later that I was a part of a radio revolution that people still ask me about today. I’m so proud to have been involved with the real and original Atlantic 252. During my time there I can honestly say I worked with the best. It taught me a lot and I realised there was a lot more to this animal called radio than I thought.”

 

RTE currently operate the 252 frequency as a relay of the main Radio One channel aimed at the Irish Diaspora in the United Kingdom.

Further Reading

The Launch of Atlantic 252

The Closure of Atlantic 252 and a Special Tribute programme by Enda Cauldwell

Robert Silvey’s ‘Who’s Listening, The Story of Audience Research at the BBC’

Leonard Plugge’s influence in Irish Radio pre World War 2
Crossing the Ether: Public Service Radio and Commercial Competition in Britain with special reference to Pre-War Broadcasting by Professor Sean Street from Bournemouth University UK.


© Eddie Bohan 2018



[1] ‘Rebel Radio’ published 2016 by Kilmainham Tales Teo
[2] RTE Archives and Irish Radio News Review
[3] The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom: Volume II by Asa Briggs
[4] Historical Oireachtas Debates of the Irish Parliament ‘Dail Eireann’
[5] Irish Government State Papers
[6] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeRKp-O9TOI
[7] The DX Archive
[8] The Irish Communications Regulator

Saturday, July 28, 2018

THE IRISH PIRATE RADIO EXHIBITION (Nationwide Tour)

At Midnight on December 31st 1987, the new Wireless Telegraphy Act came into force and began to regulate the chaotic Irish radio airwaves. It brought about an end to a golden era of pirate radio in Ireland that ultimately had created a radio industry that still flourishes today. According to the latest JNLR figures (July 2018) 3.1 million Irish people listen to the radio everyday for an average of 4 hours per day. That's 85% of the entire population of Ireland listening to the radio.

From the very earliest radio experiments by Marconi which were conducted in Ireland to today's State radio and legal independent radio sector Ireland has a colourful radio history. During the 1916 Easter Rising the rebels led by Padraig Pearse launched their own wireless station and they began to broadcast communiques declaring the Rising had begun and that a new Republic had been declared. Ireland had become the first nation in the world to be declared by radio, by pirate radio.

Throughout the decades up to 1988 Ireland officially had a State broadcaster originally known as 2RN, the Radio Eireann and as it is today allied with a television service Radio Telifis Eireann (RTE). To compete with this monopoly and to cater to an emerging younger, liberal and rebellious population from the late 1960's, pirate radio began to fill a void.

From 1960 to 1988, thousands of pirate radio stations went on air in every city, town, village and even parish. Some were hobby in nature, some were community orientated while many began known as the super pirates, with powerful clean signals playing a diet of pop music and commercials making many of them quite financially successful.
The South Dublin County Library 

Many of these stations are now just pleasant memories but their paper and audio trails still exist and are an important  part of Ireland's radio and social history. They demonstrate a changing society and how the illegality of pirate radio can sit sometimes very comfortably with state institutions such as Revenue, Unions such as the NUJ and politicians.

Pirate radio has at times being of a political nature and the first man to die on hunger strike following his conviction for pirate radio broadcasting Sean McNeela died in 1940 having operated a station that broadcast IRA propaganda. Sinn Fein stations in the 1980's contributed to the election of a number of Maze hunger strikers which prevented a Charles Haughey led Fianna Fail government getting back into power.

RTE, TV 3 and some of the commercial and community sector are awarded grants from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to conduct archiving and it would be remiss of us as a nation to allow the wealth and depth of the pirate radio archive to be lost for future generations of scholars and radio listeners.


In May 2018, after months of gathering materials I launched the Irish Pirate Radio Exhibition at the South Dublin County Library to show some of the memorabilia and to let visitors discover the history of pirate radio (and television) in Ireland. The exhibition includes pop up banners, rate cards, car stickers, mugs, court summons and even an FM pirate radio transmitter built by Sean McQuillan in a biscuit tin for the writer Pat McCabe (The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto) for his station Radio Butty.

The Waterford Central Library

The exhibition then traveled to Waterford Central Library and is currently on at Dungarvan Library on the Quayside. On August 7th it will move to the Granary in Limerick City. The hope is to create real interest in the history of Irish pirate radio and to create momentum for the creation of an archive and perhaps most importantly for any project to generate funding whether through grants or donations.
The Dungarvan Library, Waterford

Stay tuned to our facebook page 'Dublin's Pirate Days' for details of the exhibition visiting somewhere near you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Radio Brexit - Broadcasting All Over Ireland NOW !!!

 A hard border, a soft border and Brexit is filling news programmes and column inches in the newspapers. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland has dominated political discourse for the past eighteen months but a frictionless border has always been surmounted by one industry - the airwaves.

The border blasters of the 1980s traded across the border. Stations set up in the Republic aimed their transmissions across the border into Northern Ireland to capture some of the lucrative advertising spent.

So here are some of the stations that have been part of the Radio Brexit Network - Border Blasters

Extracts from the book 'A Century of Irish Radio 1900 - 2000'

In the 1980's the Irish Government began to receive complaints from the British authorities and those in Belfast regarding a new phenomenon ‘border blasters’. High powered transmitters were located in the Republic on the south of the border with programming and advertising rates aimed into Northern Ireland.  These stations also attracted the wrath of the authorities at the European Broadcasting Union who complained that the Irish Government were doing nothing to close these stations and demanded that they take immediate steps to prevent these stations broadcasting their illegal signals across a border into another nation. This seemed ironic as the same organisation turned a blind eye to the likes of the U.S. who funded Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe who beamed their propaganda signals into Russia from Europe.

The Government assured their European counterparts that legislation was being prepared. But instead the national station became the criminal in the eyes of Europe. RTE had been granted the long wave frequency of 254khz by the European Broadcasting Union. In 1984, Chris Cary made an audacious attempt to use the frequency to set up a powerful station to broadcast into the British mainland. Radio Exidy with a transmitter located at Clogherhead, County Louth carried out test transmissions but pressure from the Irish Government forced him to abandon the plans. In 1986 RTE announced it intended to use the frequency and in 1988 announced a partnership with Radio Luxembourg to launch Radio Tara Limited with RTE owning 20% of the company. The station would broadcast into Britain as Radio Luxembourg did as in 1988 Britain had no national commercial radio stations. A thousand foot mast and powerful fifty kilowatt transmitter was installed at Clarkestown County Meath. Studios were built at Mornington House at the nearby village of Trim and cost almost six million pounds to put on the air. The station was not popular with the locals who protested and took unsuccessful High Court challenges to stop the station. But just after 8am on September 1st 1989 Gary King became the first voice heard on Atlantic 252 and Tears for Fear’s hit ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ the first song played. The station became a success with DJ’s like Charlie Wolf, Hollywood Haze and Pizzaman. By 1995 and with Radio Luxembourg 208 now closed (1991) the station was announcing four million listeners and net profits of £2.5m but the arrival of national commercial stations in Britain especially on the better quality FM, the future of longwave was limited. In January 1989, sabotage was suspected at the transmitter site and a very strong local campaign against the sitting of the high powered transmitter and its possible health risks in Trim saw the station going to the Supreme Court but the campaign faltered

In 2000 Radio Luxembourg announced it was pulling out of the UK market and in October 2001 the station was sold to Teamtalk Radio for £2m with the station's last pop broadcast at 5p.m. on December 20th 2001. The last show on Atlantic was presented by Enda Cauldwell. This was followed by a Tribute show produced by Enda Caldwell and Eric Murphy celebrating the station's 12-year history of broadcasting and featuring classic airchecks of each year of Atlantic 252's history. The station then transitioned to automation, and continued broadcasting music without continuity, along with pre-booked commercials, until 12 midnight on 2 January 2002, when transmissions ceased.

One former presenter Robin Banks said:
“I didn’t realise until years later that I was a part of a radio revolution that people still ask me about today. I’m so proud to have been involved with the real and original Atlantic 252. During my time there I can honestly say I worked with the best, Sandy (Beech), Nicksy (Schiller), Dusty (Rhodes), Charlie (Wolf) and a load more who made Atlantic the biggest commercial radio station in the world on Long Wave! It taught me a lot and I realised there was a lot more to this animal called radio than I thought.”


TeamTalk Radio went on the air with live programming on February 25th 2002 but with stiff competition from BBC Radio 5 and Talksport the station folded after a couple of months and the 252 frequency was returned to RTE who relay their Radio One service on the frequency.

Some of the stations that transmitted across the border were
Jukebox Memories  - 864khzAM
Broadcasting in the late nineties, Jukebox Memories said that were located at Clogherhead County Louth broadcasting into Northern Ireland as one of the border blasters. They revealed that on their 864khz transmitter they put out ‘5 kw from a 50m mast’. They also Voice of Evangelism is included in this service of pre-recorded programmes.
Magic 105 – 105.1mhz FM
Began broadcasting on November 15th 1999 operating as a border blaster broadcasting into Northern Ireland. The last broadcast from Magic 105 was on 11 May 2007 when the station's transmitter was seized by the authorities from Bragan Mountain, close to the original Greagh site.
Radio North -  846khzAM & 103mhzFM
Radio North began broadcasting on November 18th 1986 from studios located at Carndonagh, County Donegal. With a number of transmitter locations around the Foyle Peninsula the station aimed much of its broadcasts into Northern Ireland. The station was operated by Frank Callaghan. The station closed in December 1988 in accordance with the new Broadcasting legislation.

In January 1989, Northside Radio came back on the air and continued for two years. Meanwhile Tommy Cunningham had opened North Atlantic Radio broadcasting on 954khz. In 1992 North moved from Carndonagh to Redcastle but their transmitters were causing interference to legal operators within Northern Ireland and moved again to Muff in Donegal. North disappeared from the airwaves but North Atlantic was rebranded as Radio North now broadcasting on 846khzAM.

In 2002 Paul Bentley took over the running of Radio North whose powerful transmitter could be heard in Dublin in 2011. Radio North promoted themselves as a C&W and Irish music station with family values and at weekends their airtime was sold to gospel and Christian broadcasters with the station announced as Gospel 846. Their own website states that,
‘Gospel 846 promotes family values through religious programming and family centered music programs.’
A quarter of a century after Radio North’s first broadcasts the station now broadcasts from studios at Shroove and transmitters located on the Moville Road. The station in various incarnations has been known as Northside Radio, Radio North County, Christian Radio 846, North 2000 and FM103.

The books lists two dozen more stations who maintained their transmitters south of the border but their programming crossed the border through the at time unregulated airwaves.

The Irish Pirate Radio Exhibition heads to Limerick


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ireland Unified by Radio


The border between the new Irish Free State and Northern Ireland was not to everyone’s liking but radio did not recognize so called hard borders and its signal in the ether was transnational. On December 13th 1927 at 8pm a unique experiment took place that for forty five minutes united the island of Ireland. A comedy revue titled ‘Hip Hip Hooradio’ was staged at the Empire Theatre in Belfast. The show was transmitted live by the Belfast radio station 2BE but in a moment of broadcasting history it was also relayed live and simultaneously by 2RN in Dublin and 6CK in Cork.

The Lord Mayors of the three cities recorded greetings for each other which were aired before the relay. The Lord Mayor of Belfast Rt. Hon. Sir William Turner attended the Empire in person and spoke into the microphone from the stage. The comedy revue was written by Richard Hayward and Gerald McNamara and was described in the pre-publicity as having ‘seventeen scenes of fun and frolic’ performed by the Ulster Players. The show was set in a radio station studio. Some of those who performed in the show were Vivian Worth, Marian Wright, Kitty Murphy, Dorothy Camlin, Jack Chambers, Richard Hayward, Jack Gavin and Kenneth Coffey. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Irish Pirate Radio Exhibition


In December 2018, Ireland will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the closure of the golden era of Irish pirate radio. An exhibition will begin in May 2018 at the South Dublin County Library and then will tour the country bringing the history and story of pirate radio to a national audience. The exhibition is a collection of memorabilia, treasures and information sheets telling the colourful story of Irish pirate radio from the first station during the 1916 Easter Rising through the decades up to the golden era of pirate radio in the 1980's with iconic stations like Radio Nova, ERI, Boyneside and ABC Waterford. A series of lectures will be held throughout May on various aspects of pirate radio and radio in Ireland today.

This unique first time event will be an insight into Irish broadcasting history and social history in Ireland. 
Here an interview here on Flirt FM giving more details on the treasures that will be on display.

https://wirelessflirt.wordpress.com/2018/04/09/wireless-on-flirt-fm-programme-18/

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

To celebrate World Radio we take a look at the significant role Ireland has played in the evolution of radio. 

In the early nineteenth century in 1838 Reverend Nicholas Callan (1799 - 1864) was born in Dromiskin, Co. Louth, Rev. Callan invented both the induction coil in 1836 and the self exacting dynamo in 1838, both of which are still being used today to broadcast. In 1852 the use of electric pulses down a wire had created the telegraph system, a faster means of communication over longer distances than the postal services and the telephone had yet to be invented. Ireland and Britain had first been connected by telegraph cable from Northern Ireland to Scotland and then in 1852 by the Electric Telegraph company from Howth to Holyhead and from Wexford to Wales in 1862 by ‘The London and South of Ireland Direct Telegraph Company’. One of the greatest barriers to the globalisation of the telegraph was the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1858 after many failed attempts undersea cables eventually linked the Atlantic Telegraph Company at Trinity Bay in Newfoundland with Valentia in County Kerry. On August 16th 1858 a cablegram was sent from Ireland to America and it read,
            ‘Europe and America are united by telegraphic communication. Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and goodwill to all men.’

The continents of Europe and North America were now for the first time joined by undersea telegraph cable on August 16th 1858 with the European terminal in Ireland. The global map of the world had begun to shrink rapidlyThe next message sent was a ninety eight word message from Queen Victoria to the then US President Buchannan. The reply that went overland from Washington to Trinity Bay, beneath the sea on cable to Valentia, overland to Greenore Point, County Wexford, under the Irish Sea to Abermawr in Wales and overland to London. The cable took ten hours to be delivered from the time it left the White House. The originally transatlantic cable was not strong enough to withstand the rigors of the Atlantic Ocean and a new cable was laid connecting the two continents in 1866. On July 27th 1866 a second cable is laid across the 1,686 nautical miles of the Atlantic by the ship The Great Eastern with Cyrus Field sending the first message across the Atlantic to Valentia Island.

While not Irish himself one of the most important names in the evolution of radio was born on April 25th 1874. Born to an Italian father Giuseppe and an Irish mother Annie Jameson (part of the Jameson Whiskey producing family), the father of modern radio Guglielmo Marconi began life in Bologna, Italy. Marconi’s mother Annie came from Enniscorthy County Wexford and was the grand daughter of the founder of the famous Irish distillery family, The Jameson’s. The Jameson family lived at that time in the Dublin suburb of Donnybrook in a house named ‘Montrose’ and Annie married Giuseppe Marconi in 1864. This second child Guglielmo was born on 25 April 1874. His Irish mother was very attentive to her children and Marconi remembered
“I owe what success I have had more than anything to the encouragement and inspiration of my mother. I learnt from her my first words in Italian and in English, too.”

He founded the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company in 1897 with the majority of his first investors being Irish businessmen.

There have been some key inventions in the evolution of radio technology none more important than in 1888 when George Francis Fitzgerald  (1851 - 1901) a physics professor at Trinity College Dublin was the first person to suggest the possibility of producing radio waves in laboratory conditions. His theory was successfully tested in 1888 by Heinrich Hertz.

Another key inventor as radio evolves into a mess medium was in 1893 when Brother Potamian sends a wireless telegraph message between rooms. He predicted after his success ‘all that is now necessary is to put up machinery powerful enough to send wireless messages around the world.’ He also predicted that same year that someday ‘not only will you be able to listen to speakers in distant parts but you will be able to see them on a screen’ a prediction of television.

Brother Potamian was born Michael F O’Reilly in Baileboro, County Cavan on September 27th 1846 but in a country gripped by famine, his famine left a year later for North America. He studied to become a school teacher in New York with the Christian Brothers and in 1870 was sent to London where he completed a science degree at London University. He began a lifelong interest in electricity, wireless telegraphy and was a pioneer of x-rays.

In 1896 he was transferred to Manhattan College but his experimentation would keep him in contact with many of the pioneers of early radio including Oliver Lodge and Marconi. In 1906, Marconi acknowledged Brother Potamian’s input into the invention and perfection of the medium of wireless telegraphy

Some of the key dates in Marconi's development of radio include July 6th 1898. Many of Marconi’s early experiments were conducted in Ireland. In July 1898, a Marconi wireless station located in Ballycastle County Antrim was able to communicate with a station on Rathlin Island in foggy conditions. While these experiments were being conducted Marconi arrived in Dublin to use wireless telegraphy for the first time for sports reporting. On July 19th & 20th July 1898 Marconi transmitted radio signals from the tug The Flying Huntress in the bay giving details of the progress of the yacht races in the Kingstown Regatta to his assistant who manned the receiving equipment in what is now Moan Park House, Dun Laoghaire. The information was then telephoned to The Dublin Express newspaper who published the results of the races shortly after they ended. This event represented the very first use of radio in journalism and sports broadcasting.
Marconi thus became the mediums first sports journalist.

In an article titled ‘Commercial Wireless Telegraphy’ printed in The World’s Work in March 1903 if described the                                                                           
‘Marconi system of telegraphy consists of setting in motion, by means of his transmitter, electric waves, which pass through the ether (a colourless, rarefied, unknown agent, supposed to fill all space) and are received on a wire or wires strung in the air. Like water, ether has waves, which may be set in motion just as waves from a stone thrown in a pond--it is the same principle exactly. Air waves and ether waves are totally different; sound is the result of the vibration of air; light the result of vibration of ether. Air waves travel infinitely more slowly than ether waves; that is the reason you see the lightning flash before you hear the thunder. Electricity means etheric vibration. Wireless telegraphy simply means the unharnessing of electricity which has long been transmitted only by wire. Marconi has demonstrated that since ether is everywhere the waves can be set in motion and sent on long journeys without the medium of wires as well as with them. But after these deductions he had first to invent two mechanical processes--one for setting the ether waves in motion so that they would travel great distances, and the other for receiving and registering these waves. Finally he evolved an apparatus which, when a current from a battery passed through it, would cause the current to jump between two brass or silver balls, described in the foregoing, and, passing thus into the aerial wire, would be radiated into space. By turning this current on and off with an ordinary sending-key its waves would be divided into dots and dashes. To catch these waves an aerial wire was hung up many miles away. The waves which the wire catches are too weak to operate an ordinary telegraph instrument.

Another milestone was December 12th 1901 when Marconi sent the first wireless message across the Atlantic from Poldu, Cornwall, England to Signal Hill, St. John’s Newfoundland. The signals from Cornwall were inconsistent for commercial communications and Marconi set up his transatlantic service from Clifden, County Galway to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. The station was destroyed in July 1922 during the Irish Civil War. Marconi’s experimental wireless had spanned the Atlantic with a connection between Newfoundland and Valentia, Kerry and Clifden, County Galway the two closest points from one land mass to another across the Atlantic.
"The  value  of  Wireless  Telegraphy  may  one  day  be  put  to  a  great  practical  and  critical  test;  then  perhaps  there  will  be  a  true  appreciation  of  the  magnitude  of  our  work."
The comments of Marconi in 1914 as the new technology progressed at pace.

In 1902, a Marconi telegraphic station was established in the village of Crookhaven, County Cork, Ireland to provide marine radio communications to ships arriving from the into Queenstown and Kerry ports. A ship's master could contact shipping line agents ashore to enquire which port was to receive their cargo without the need to come ashore at what was the first port of landfall. As existing submarine cable operators in the early 1900s had held a monopoly on the telegraph service to Newfoundland, Marconi's built his first regular trans-Atlantic wireless service was established on October 17, 1907 outside Clifden, County Galway, Ireland to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.  Another Marconi receiving station located near Letterfrack operated from 1913 until 1916. Marconi also built wireless facilities near Ballybunion in County Kerry in 1914 which were employed by the British during World War I. In March 1919, the first Marconi broadcast of voice by longwave radio, made from Marconi's station YXQ at Ballybunion was heard as far as Chelmsford and Louisburg, Nova Scotia. Marconi used the wireless stations in Clifden and Valentia to communicate with America through his stations in Newfoundland, Canada and in Wellfleet Massachusetts. In October 1907 Clifden was opened for the Marconi Company to send commercial telegraphs across the Atlantic.

The world's first pirate radio broadcast was transmitted from Dublin on April 25/26th 1916 during the 1916 Easter Rising when rebels used the new technology to circumvent strict British censorship to broadcast news of their Rising to the world.

Perhaps one of the most famous pirate radio stations in the world was Radio Caroline, the brainchild of Irish born Ronan O'Rahilly who's grandfather fought and died during the Easter Rising, The O'Rahilly. The original Caroline vessel was fitted out in Ronan's family shipyard in Greenore, County Louth. Radio Atlantis another pirate radio ship of the early sixties was also fitted out in the port much to the annoyance of the British broadcasting authorities. Caroline's first broadcast was on March 28th 1964 from the North Sea beaming its signal into Britain.