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Wednesday 1 November 2023

The Time For A Dedicated Independent Irish Radio Archive is NOW


We have harvested wood and bogs to heat and cook, we’ve tamed rivers to provide electricity and now we have harnessed the wind, the oceans, and the sun to create renewable energy but the ether has been a natural resource that we’ve utilized successfully, using it to communicate and entertain ourselves for over a century. The radio waves that help us land planes on the Aran Islands and listen to the Cranberries have also been harnessed. According to the most recent JNLR ratings 80.2% of the adult Irish population listen to Irish radio every day. It is our heritage.


Our love affair with radio has propelled Irish radio history onto a global stage. From Marconi’s Irish mother encouraging her son to experiment, to the rebels of 1916 ensuring that Ireland became the first nation in the world to be declared by radio to Clondalkin born Ronan O’Rahilly helping to revolutionise radio with his Radio Caroline, we have a rich tapestry in radio and it continues to evolve from analogue to digital to online.


 We are now entering a celebration of Irish radio milestones. 1923 and Ireland’s first licensed radio station 2BP takes to the airwaves, 2BE is launched by the BBC in Belfast in 1924, the new Free State inaugurates 2RN in 1926, while Cork sees the arrival of 6CK in 1927 and 1932 sees radio take the Eucharistic Congress to a global audience.


Are we remiss in not exhibiting our immense radio history? How will scholars of the future discover how and why in this modern age of social media that analogue radio listenership is still over eighty percent? Unlike many nations of a comparable size, Ireland does not have a centralised radio archive or museum both open to both donations and research. Our disregard of our broadcasting heritage is shameful. The memories of those in front and behind the microphone seems lost in the mists of time.


The largest radio and audio archive is RTE’s. While not complete, the only recorded snippet of the opening nights broadcast comes courtesy of the BBC who rebroadcast part of the opening night to the UK, it is an invaluable resource but spending cuts within the broadcaster has seen its staffing levels and importance reduced. An independently funded body should be put in charge of maintaining, updating and making available all radio archives, including RTE, commercial, local and community radio.


We have the archives; it is scattered to the four corners of the island. We have a unique collection of invaluable Irish radio artifacts gathering dust on shelves in the Cork City Gaol Museum, a passion of the late Paddy Clarke, degrading as I write this impassioned plea. Without County Louth born Fr. Nicholas Callan and his work on the induction coil in the mid-19th century, Marconi may not have ended up leaving Italy, his archives are in Maynooth University. Without the work of the Irish Radio Transmitters Society to save the work of Colonel Meade Dennis, the world’s first radio ham, another remarkable story would be lost. His equipment was donated to the Computer and Communications Museum at NUIG. The RTE scripts of the past are located at UCD. The Hurdy Gurdy Museum in Howth, a personal achievement of the late Pat Herbert is a treasure trove of Irish radio history. The Irish Pirate Radio Archive is located at Dublin City University. There is the RTE archive, totally under resourced and haemorrhaging staff, a massive an invaluable archive unfortunately for scholars hidden behind a pay wall. There are the archives of the independent sector for which limited Sound and Vision grant money is available. The archives of at first the IRTC, then the BCI, later BAI and now Coimisiún na Meán are a vital thread to understanding and studying Irish radio history. This scattered approach is diffused and disorganised and without a centralised online guide. Our radio archives physical and audio should be housed in a dedicated sound and audio archive like the Centre National de L’Audiovisuel in Luxembourg or the German Broadcasting Archive.


Whether its Clifden in 1907, O’Connell Street in 1916, 2BP’s broadcasts in 1923. 2RN in 1926, Radio Caroline in 1964, Radio Nova in 1981, Atlantic 252 in 1989 or Christmas FM in 2008, the physical and audio archives should be centralised so that those who have kept safe their treasures over the decades have somewhere to donate their collections. There should be strategic policy developed for Irish radio archiving and history protection.


With the GPO relocating its offices from O’Connell Street to The Point, perhaps the GPO could be used to house a unique collection of radio memorabilia, artefacts, archives, and audio. We need action now as each and every day new material is created, new memories are made and yet voices are lost.

Saturday 21 October 2023


We have all watched TV shows like 'It'll Be Alright On The Night' or 'TV Bloopers & Practical Jokes' but on radio you can also have bloopers and even Irish pirate radio had its own fair share. With thanks to John Kenny's audio donation to the Irish Pirate Radio Archive at DCU, here are a selection of  those bloopers from recording advertisment disasters to stings gone wrong, they are all here. These come mainly from South Coast Radio in Cork and Q102 in Dublin.



Wednesday 20 September 2023

A View From The Emerald Isle of France's Diamond, Mylene Farmer

 Mylene Farmer Concert Review

This is slightly different to my usual radio blog posts but in a round about way it is about the power of radio. During the Covid lockdown I listened to online radio from around the world and especially after the passing of another favourite artist of mine Johnny Halliday, I thankfully discovered Mylene Farmer and I fell in love with her music, her live performances and I became a big fan thanks to radio. The next step was to travel to see her magic on stage.

I've also written this as a personal memory was Youtube took down the video I had made to commemorate my time at the concert. 

There are not many artists that could get me onto a flight from Dublin to beautiful but extremely hot Bordeaux but Canadian born and the belle of France, Mylene Farmer did just that. Her Nevermore 2023 tour, in support of the release of her L'Emprise album, was her first since Timeless in 2013. A Stadium tour, comprising of fourteen stadiums across Europe, sold out, with over half a million tickets sold. On Bastille Day, July 14th, she arrived at the Mamhut Atlantique stadium for the first of two sell out shows. 

Firstly, the only negative comment about the show, the chaos of the queues to get into the stadium was a disorganized mess for both French and non-native visitors alike, shockingly bad. Enough of the negatives. As the night drew in at 9.15pm, the giant screen came to life and like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Birds, a conspiracy of ravens, the theme of the staging, filled the screen. The crowd stood and roared their approval. Then the flame-haired raven herself, Mylene appeared centre stage, with the screen projecting her possessing wings of her own. She then began a two and a quarter hour marathon of tracks from 'L'Emprise' and her greatest hits.


I may not be fluent in French, I've enough to have an argument in a shoe shop, but the music, the pure voice not showing any signs of decline as she moves into her sixties, the theatrics, the dancers and the quality musicians by her side including her long-standing keyboard player Yvan Cassar made this one of the best concerts I was ever at. Mylene oversees much of the design of her shows and with the lighting, the theatrics, including giant arms that swung her out over the crowd and the cross shaped runway projecting from the stage all driving this juggernaut of a show career through at breakneck speed.

With the audience in the palm of her hand, she became quite emotional as the crowd serenaded the lady in the middle during her rendition of 'Rever' (Dreaming). The hits were all there, 'Libertine' ,'C'est une Belle Journee' (It's A Beautiful Day) and 'XXL' along with new tracks, a duet with aAron on Rayon Vert' (Green Ray),'A Tout Jamais' (Forever) before finishing two and a quarter hours later with her greatest hit 'Desenchantee' (Disenchanted) by and an encore of 'Rallumer Les Etoiles' (Rekindling the Stars).


And with that Mylene was into her people carrier and gone. Finally to put the opening negative into a positive, the exit from the stadium was excellent, as a fleet of free shuttle buses took thousands back into the centre of Bordeaux where the fireworks, music and dancing continued into the wee small hours of the morning. If you are unfamiliar with Mylene's work I highly recommend her Timeless 2013 concert on YouTube. Magnifique!!!!


Finally I’ll get to enjoy Mylene once more when I head to Paris for October 1st 2024. Until then I have Mylene’s duet with Moby on loop as it is an instant classic.

Mylene’s Irish Fanclub

Wednesday 14 June 2023

The 2BP Centenary Event - Press Release

PRESS RELEASE – June 14th 2023

As we end Ireland’s decade of centenaries, one event 100 years ago, still has ramifications today. On August 14th 1923 the Irish radio audiences would for the first time hear local voices and Irish music on their own radio station. Ireland’s first licensed radio station, 2BP, took to the airwaves.


This August, with the support of Coimisiún na Meán and the Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame, we will commemorate those pioneer broadcasters including Victoria Clarke Barry, whose grand-niece is Lorraine Barry, is a judge on RTE’s ‘Dancing With The Stars’.


The opening of 2BP by the Marconi Company coincided with the annual RDS Horse Show and proved extremely popular and therein lies its downfall and colourful history as the first commercial radio station in the new Irish Free State.


To commemorate the unique event, this August a tribute radio station ‘2BP’ will bring the sounds of the 1920’s into the 2020’s. The programming will include Paul Kerenza’s popular BBCentury podcasts, which tells the story of early radio in the British Isles.  A book chronicling the history of the station will be launched and a special event will take place in the very room where 2BP’s studios were located in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire on Saturday August 12th 2023 at 7pm. Radio historian Eddie Bohan will tell the story of 2BP with special guests including Lorraine Barry.


Tickets for the event will be available at the end of July from Eventbrite. For further information contact Eddie Bohan at or follow our twitter @IBHallofFame

Media enquiries to: Eddie Bohan


Wednesday 31 May 2023

Radio Goaleen/Radio Ballyvaughan Broadcasting across Galway Bay in 1966


Radio Ballyvaughan in north County Clare was first heard at Easter April 1966. It was first reported as broadcasting from 9am to 1pm on Sundays on 300m medium wave covering the Galway Bay area of North Clare and South Galway. By September newspapers were reporting that it was on air from 10am to 1pm and then from 3 to 5pm. In a letter to the Irish Press on Wednesday September 14th, a ‘Mr. R.C. of Bansha’ wrote that,

“Over the past few days I have been picking up weak signals from two Irish 'pirate' stations. The first was heard on the high-frequency end of the 80 metre band around 3.8 megacycles. Transmissions from this station begin at about 3.0 p.m. (Irish time) and close at 6.15. Programme consists of records, including many Irish ballads, Country and Western music, and the closing announcement states that 'the mini station is now going off the air'. "The second 'pirate' was logged on 300 metres from 10 a.m. till 1p.m., and also from 3pm till 5p.m. Here the programmes consist of 'pop' I records and many of the Irish showbands are featured, together with the relay of news. from RTE. The station identification is frequently given, but I was unable to comprehend it due to weak signal and noise level".


In a second letter to the same newspaper, a ‘B.K., Galway’ identifies the 300-metre station as Radio Ballyvaughan, with an address at Main Street, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare.

Their programmes consisted of pop records and showband music and crudely relayed Radio Eireann’s hews headlines at the top of each hour. According to an article in the Clare Champion in 1989, the station was operated by student Gerry Wallace from Lisnard. In an obituary on a local school master Mattie Bermingham in 2019 on the Ballyvaughan/Fanore GAA club page, it filled in more of the story as Gerry has been a student of the former headmaster,

‘his (Master Bermingham) infectious enthusiasm was transmitted to one of his pupils, Gerry Wallace of Lower Street[1], Ballyvaughan. From 4.00pm each afternoon, Gerry and his friends began transmitting Radio Goaleen from their 'studio' located at Low Street, to the wider Galway Bay area. Records (LPs) such as those received from Ben Dolan (Salthill, Galway), an older brother of Joe Dolan; then a Mullingar teenager, could be heard across the airwaves on both sides of Galway Bay, as a teenage audience discarded their school-books and exercises for the following day; to tune into their own radio station.’


In a 2012 news item in the Clare Champion[2] it reported,

‘a recent visitor to Ballyvaughan was Gerard Wallace formerly of Lisanard, Ballyvaughan and now resident in Dublin. In the 1960’s as a teenager and a student of the Ballyvaughan Vocational School, he built one of the finest radio stations in the West of Ireland and called it Radio Goaleen. Needless to say, it was eventually closed by the Postmaster General in Galway.’


When the golden period of pirate radio ended in Ireland in 1988, one of the franchises awarded was to Galway Bay FM[3] run by Gerry Rabbitte. He would later sell his station but remain in radio purchasing Highland Radio based in Donegal from businessman Denis O’Brien. Speaking about his love of radio, it was reported that,

‘As a teenager, he heard the scratchy broadcasts of a pirate radio station transmitting into Galway from Ballyvaughan. The ambitious Gerry found someone to drive him out to the place where the weak signal was coming from. He discovered a shed at the back of a house where the broadcaster had rigged up a mast “like a goalpost with a hanger at the top”. Gerry says he had to “see how the thing worked” and was fascinated with the ingenuity of it all.[4]


Radio Goaleen/Radio Ballyvaughan was a pioneer in the west of Ireland in 1966, when Radio Caroline was dominated the airwaves from the seas around Britain and Ireland. Ahead of its time, Gerry and his friends proved there was an appetite for an alternative to Radio Eireann and a demand for local radio.




[1] Lower Main Street

[2] Friday August 10th 2012

[3][3] Originally known as Radio West



Friday 26 May 2023

South Coast Radio 1983 Pantomime & Big D Radio's 1981 New Wave Rave Show with John Kenny

Today we bring you the first two recordings in our media player from a donation by broadcaster John Kenny. John worked on numerous pirate stations in Ireland including Big D Radio, Q 102 and South Coast Radio in Cork. John continues to broadcast and is widely regarded as the voice of motorsports in Ireland. The first recording is from South Coast Radio’s 1983 Pantomime ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ which was broadcast to their Cork listeners. The show was produced by Nick Richards. The station did have issues over the Christmas period due to transmitter issues (more on this can be read HERE on 

The cast of the Panto was

The Narrator….                      Pete O’Neill

Red Riding Hood…                Siobhan Walls

The Wolf….                           Jim Lockhart

Red Ridings Mother…           Kathy Dillon

The Grandmother…               Paul Cassidy

Woodcutter….                        Don Stevens

Woodcutters Son….               Nick Richards

The Squirrel….                       Alan Reid

The Butterfly….                     John Kenny

Burglars….                             Steve Douglas

                                                Luke Ward

Bus Passenger….                    George Long

The second of today’s recordings comes from John's time at Big D Radio in Dublin, which was at that time located on Camden Street in the basement of 'Ricardos Pool Hall'. The show featured New Wave music both Irish and International and looks back to the New Wave music history of 1979. The show was broadcast 6-9pm on Saturday May 23rd 1981. The recording includes tracks from Irish bands The Members, the Attrix and Dirty Looks.

From the bands official Facebook Page.


Wednesday 19 April 2023

Atlantic 252, an obituary or a call to arms?


On Friday April 14th 2023, the transmitter based in County Meath, Ireland on 252khz longwave went silent. Its lifetime was colourful and controversial and while the end was on the agenda for some years, so too was its beginning. As another analogue service disappears from the airwaves, perhaps it’s timely to look back at the beginning.


In 1975 RTE, the Irish State broadcaster was awarded the longwave frequency of 254khz by the International Telecommunications Union. The frequency lay dormant for over a decade until 1983 when one pirate radio buccaneer, Chris Cary, the owner of the illegal broadcaster Radio Nova announced that he was about to launch a longwave station on 254khz based in the former holiday camp at Mosney announcing it as Radio Exidy. While that venture never got past a couple of hours of testing, the authorities realised that if a pirate operator, who’s station was hammering the state broadcaster in the rating battle, was talking about longwave, maybe there was something in it.

It was fortuitous that the media giant Radio Luxembourg, who’s powerful 208m frequency struggled during daytime hours, was seeking another avenue to get their product into the important British market. In 1983, discussions began between RTE and Radio Luxembourg exploring the possibility of using 254khz from a powerful transmitter located in Ireland broadcasting into Britain. In August 1986 it was announced that the two media companies were forming a company to broadcast as Radio Tara. The station’s transmitter would be based on lands in County Meath and initially broadcast from 6am to 7pm daily. One hundred thousand pounds was used to purchase the land at Summerhill near Trim in County Meath.


In January 1987, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs granted Radio Tara Limited, with offices on Fitzwilliam Square, permission to broadcast without the requirement of new legislation. The opening of the station was part of the Fianna Fail manifesto for the 1987 General election and was championed by the new Minister for Posts and Telegraphs Ray Burke. In July 1987, Radio Tara Limited submitted a planning application for the building of transmitter housing, a 900ft aerial, taller than the Eiffel Tower and associated infrastructure including roads to get the station on the air. On October 5th 1987 it was announced that the State’s telecom agency Bord Telecom would be lodging an objection as they believed the powerful transmitter would cause problems for the local telephone network. On October 17th, the State body suddenly without much explanation withdrew their objection, leading to newspaper speculation that Government pressure had been brought to bear to force them to withdraw.

The local community immediately objected fearing health issues from the radiated power of the transmitters. It was a very vocal local protest, which included all sections of the community. In March 1988 after six hours of evidence delivered to the planning applications board An Board Pleanala. In July it was announced that permission had been granted for the erection of the aerial complex. The Mulhuddard based engineering firm of McInerney’s Civil Engineering was appointed to build the transmitter base. In August 1988 as the company began initial construction work, local began protesting at the entrance halting work until the company won a court injunction to prevent the picketing. In September newspapers were reporting that the European Investment Bank was providing Radio Tara Limited with £2.6m in loans to get the station on the air. Radio Tara Limited would be owned 50% by RTE and 50% by Radio Luxembourg’s parent company. According to subsequent RTE financial reporting, the national broadcaster invested ir£1,990,207 in getting the station on the air, with the rest of the estimated ir£8m coming from Luxembourg.

In November 1988 it was announced in London to the media community that the new station was to be known as Radio Five. In December, the station announced that Travis Baxter would be appointed the first director of programming for the station. Up to that point in the UK, there was no national pop station but the UK Minister responsible Douglas Hurd announced that within three years national licences would be awarded but this gave the Meath based station time to get a foothold on both the British listening market and more importantly the advertising market.

Troubles continued in Summerhill as in January 1989, the site was sabotaged when sugar was placed in the water tanks used to cool the 300kw transmitters. Protests continued locally and through the courts with the case going to the High Court and eventually the Supreme Court. It was reported when the local council agreed to grant planning permission that they had ignored the recommendations of their own expert who was against the erection of the facility. It was widely reported that locals believed and some senior opposition politicians that Ray Burke as a government minister had put undue pressure on the local council to allow the station to get on the air. The Minister denied this at the time but he would be involved in a corruption scandal involving the awarding of new Independent commercial licences with the Republic in subsequent years. (See the Flood Tribunal Report)

The studios would be located in a former doctor’s house named Mornington House in Trim, County Meath. The station also opened a sales office at 74 Newman Street in London. The RTE broadcaster at the time Pat Kenny was appointed chairman of Radio Tara Limited. In June 1988 it was announced that the new stations name, after extensive and expensive market research, would be Atlantic 252. This was despite the initial frequency being 254khz, but the station were aware that in February 1990, the new frequency allocation to Ireland would alter from 254 to 252khz. At 8am on Friday September 1st 1989, Gary King was the first voice heard on the new station.  The station beat the first nationally licensed independent commercial station in the Republic under the new IRTC, Century Radio, by three days. The difference in the markets try were aiming at is illustrated by the advertising rates charged by the two stations. On Atlantic 252 a 30sec commercial cost the advertisers ir£500 (with no regulations on the amount of minutes per hour) while Century were charging ir£50 for 30sec.  Initially the station was on air from 6am to 7pm and listeners were then invited to tune into Radio Luxembourg on 208 medium wave. In January 1990 as the station gained a bigger audience, broadcasting hours were extended to 2am and by the end of 1991, Atlantic 252 was broadcasting 24hours per day.


In its initial years Atlantic 252 struggled to make a profit and financial pressures on RTE meant that in May 1992, the station sold 30% of their holding in Radio Tara to RTL for ir£3.85m, making them a 20% minority shareholder. With RTE’s shareholding significantly reduced the Board Chairman Pat Kenny was replaced by former Luxembourg Prime Minister Gaston Thorn. By 1995, despite the arrival of national commercial stations in the UK, Atlantic was winning the ratings battle. 5.8m listening to Atlantic, 4m listening to Virgin 1215 and 3.73m to Capital Radio. RTE may have regretted selling its shareholding as in 1995, Atlantic 252 was making a profit, reported in the trade newspapers as $2m in the first six months of 1995. The Manchester Evening News once said that,

‘For a while no car ride was complete without hearing it.’

Atlantic 252 was one of the first champions of an up and coming band in the late 1990’s, Take That. Despite reaching the heights of over 6m listeners, the expanding competition on the British mainland from local and national commercial stations and a reinvigorated BBC, Atlantic’s numbers began to plateau and then decline. In November 1999 with John O’Hara now at the helm, the station was relaunched as ‘The New Atlantic 252’ but the slide continued.

October 2001 RTL sold its 80% stake to Teamtalk Radio for €8m. Teamtalk was based in Leeds but broadcast throughout the UK on 252 from the Clarkstown transmitter. The final broadcast of Atlantic 252 was on December 20th 2001 and hosted by Enda Cauldwell which celebrated the station’s twelve year history. Teamtalk 252 was officially opened on March 11th 2002 after testing from late January and was an all sport radio station. The station struggled without live rights which were sealed by TalkSport and the BBC and were relegated to discussion programming and low level live sports coverage. On July 31st 2002 Teamtalk suddenly closed as its parent company was sold to a UK betting firm. The result of the sudden demise of the 252 frequency was that RTE’s bought back the 80% for €630,000

RTE then began rebroadcasting RTE Radio 1 on 252khz aimed at the Irish diaspora living in the UK estimated at almost six million. The station briefly broadcast as Charity 252 to coincide with a competition for the 2004 telethon event ‘People in Need’. According to the Irish Film and Television Network press release at the time,

This year's 'RTE People in Need Telethon' has a new element. This year mixes radio and television and will feature seven Irish celebrities locked away in RTE, operating their own radio station. 'RTE Charity 252' is the radio station that will commence broadcasting on Friday 14th  May, with daily evictions voted for by the Irish public until the final broadcast on 21 May. Typically, as more celebrities are evicted, it's up to the remaining DJ's to ensure that the station continues to transmit.

The radio broadcasts will be available on the old Atlantic 252 channel, with plenty of penalties for dead air time, etc. Each evening (9.30-10.30pm), Gerry Ryan will host a TV eviction programme highlighting the day's events, talking to contestants, and evicting one celebrity

The show is being produced by RTE - Niamh Farren is producing the tv show, Alice O'Sullivan is producing the radio show, and independent production company Another Avenue (The Restaurant reality TV series) is controlling the house, providing the edited reality elements for the daily eviction show from the studio for RTE. Simon Gibney is director.

Philip Kampff is the overall Executive Producer for RTE People in Need; Patrick Cowap is on board as the multi-cam director. The seven women chosen to participate were Sorcha Furlong, Eileen Reid, Amanda Brunker, Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh, Fiona McShane, Emma O'Driscoll and Claire McKeon. The last two were Eileen Reid and Fiona McShane are the remaining contestants. Dublin born showband singer Eileen Reid was the winner of the show. She ended up getting her own show on RTE Radio 1 as a result of the win and reaction to her performance on Charity 252.


Initially RTE made a decision to close the frequency in 2014 as a cost saving exercise, but this postponed following an outcry in Britain from the Irish listening there. Their ability to listen to RTE had been diminished once RTE had closed their last medium wave outlet in Tullamore. RTE said that the cost of running the powerful transmitters was unsustainable that it was accounting for 2.5% of RTE’s energy bill. It was announced again that the station would close in 2017 but it was again delayed. Another deadline was set for 2019 but again delayed as a campaign led by Enda O’Kane, an ex RTE employee, gained momentum. Some of the issues for the retention of longwave RTE broadcasts was that manufacturers whether radio or car radio, were not including longwave as an option anymore. From 2019 there were extended periods of 252 being off the air for ‘maintenance’ but this was also prepping listeners to find alternative ways to listen to RTE in the UK.


The Closure came on Friday April 14th 2023, forty years after Chris Cary of Radio Nova floated the idea of broadcasting from Ireland into Britain on Longwave.



For me I miss the original Atlantic 252, I loved listening to the station in my green Mazda as I travelled to work in Arklow, for others like Enda O’Kane it’s the severing of their connection to Ireland as they make their way through life in Britain but the unifying fact is that we miss 252. I miss Charlie Wolf, the Pizzaman[1], Enda Cauldwell, Robin Banks et all. If we can build toll roads and bridges as a public/private partnership. surely there should be a partnership between public and private enterprise to make all sides happy and bring 252 back to life.

[1] Pizzaman real name Gary Wilkinson died aged 50 In October 2022


The Irish Newspaper Archives

World Radio History

The Irish Broadcasting Hall of Fame

Enda Caudwell

Enda O'Kane

RTE Archives

Atlantic 252 Tribute Site