Raidió Luimní was a long-running Limerick station on air until the legislated pirate closedowns of 1988
One larger than life character makes the name Raidió Luimní (Irish for Radio Limerick, which was the original station name) stand out. The irrepressible John ‘The Man’ Frawley ran the station and Republican tendencies were a feature of the output.
In its later years they broadcast from the first floor of a butcher’s shop on the corner of William St and Gerald Griffin St.
A main staple of most local services these days, it should be noted that John Frawley was believed to be the first to read out the death notices over the airwaves.
They built a big and loyal audience before being forced to close, with little to no hope of a new licence, in December 1988.
‘The Man’ in action. These three images of John Frawley on air were sent to us by Svenn Martinsen, a Norwegian anorak who visited Raidió Luimní in June 1983. They are used with gratitude.
A sample schedule from March 1982 when Raidió Luimní were broadcasting on 1400kHz/322 metres MW:
7.30am Snap Crackle & Pop with John the Man
9.30 Anything Goes with Mike Hogan
Midday The Angelus
12.01 Fonsie’s Frolics with Newsboy Fonsie Renihan
1 Lunchtime Requests with John the Man
2 Something Old, Something New, Mostly Borrowed and Nothing New!
3.30 Music while you work
5 Home Again with Mike Hogan
6 The Angelus
6.10 Fun, Facts and Figures with Mike Hogan
7 Paranormal Phenomena
7.30 Pop Goes the Doc with Dr John Moloney
10 Put down your tablets, pick up your pen with The Man
11.30 Limerick Lady with Shay Kinsella
9am Youth Round with Colin Heffernan
11 Requested Top Ten
Midday The Angelus
12.01 Hats Off to Larry with Larry O’Brien
1 Winter Scene with Mike Hogan
6 The Angelus
7am Sunday Sounds with Mike Hogan
9.30am Ceol an Aifreann
9.50 John McCormack Recital
10.30 Encore with Ronnie Madden
Midday The Angelus
12.01 That was the Sunday Papers that was
2pm Hospitals Requests
5 Sound of Sweeney with Ger Sweeney
6 The Angelus
6.10 Sound of Sweeney (cont)
7.30 Classical Sounds with Roger O’Donoghue
10.30 National Anthem and Closedown
The saga of John The Man & Walter Stanley
by John Johnston for limerick.com October 2, 2010
Back in the golden days of pirate radio in the 70s & 80s, the people of limerick were truly blessed.
By switching on to Raidió Luimní, you heard the best local radio programme, in some folk’s opinion, that there ever has been.
Around 7.30 am, you would hear the soft tones of John The Man Frawley welcoming listeners to his station. John had the most incredible friendly intimate voice and in no time at all would soothe you and make you feel that you had a friend in your house.
He would relate all the local gossip and happenings about town, whom he’d met on his travels and what they had said. It must have taken him an hour to walk up William St.
Each day he would read out the news from the day’s papers plus the horoscopes to keep you informed as to what was going in the world.
A godsend for people unfortunate enough to be confined to the house and cut off from the outside world as he brought all the news to them in his own inimitable way. You would feel that you were not alone. John was their lifeline.
Around 8am he would start his daily task of getting his meeces (the children) off to school, by roaring, ‘get up out of it’ to them. On would come crystal gayle singing- ‘here i go once again with my suitcase in my hand’.
What was the weather doing? No satellites for John the man, a quick look out of the window and a guess at what was in store for us that day. Was sammy sunshine or ronnie rain on the way? Very sophisticated!!
His transport consisted of an old banger called the galloping maggot, (god knows where he got the name from) which had to be replaced often as it was always giving up the ghost!!
John had several features to his programme but one that was unique was his bit of fun with the listeners whereby he invited them to phone in to guess the title of the next song that he planned to play. The calls were numerous and he would tell them if they were warm, getting warmer or cold etc, in their guesses. Incredibly, when you consider all the possibilities that the listeners had to choose from, within about six tries someone had usually cracked it!!
But the show really excelled when the double act started with the appearance of walter stanley. Walter, a bar manager in Gus O’Driscoll’s in Corbally, was a real live wire. Full of energy, he was quick and witty and the two-way repartee with John was electric and hilarious.
They created between them the illusion that they were broadcasting from an RTE or BBC type studio when Walter would roar out, ‘yoohoo John, up there in studio four, I see you’ and say he was giving him a wave when all the time they were hunched together in a little room.
‘Any sca?’, was always walter’s enquiry when he wanted to know if John knew about any scandal that he, Walter, wasn’t aware of.
‘I heard you were seen last night, John, in a certain chemist shop’ was Walter’s way of saying that John had been spotted having a few pints in a certain licensed premises.
The listeners hung on every word they said, never knowing what they would come out with next.
John started his days in showbiz as a singer with the monarchs showband and his fine recording of Pearly Shells is still played locally. (I had the pleasure of doing so myself recently).
He immortalized Noel O’Connor, the butcher in Wickham Street, by christening him – the happy butcher- a name that still sticks.
At the end of John’s programme he would announce that he was going walking about to, hopefully, get a few shillings from his advertisers to pay his bills.
The station had to close when an official broadcasting licence was given to someone else in Limerick but the legend of John the man Frawley and Walter Stanley, (who both sadly were cut down in middle age), will live on in fond affection forever within the hearts of lovers of true local radio.
They were simply the best!! Thanks for the memories!!
First Adams broadcast in 26 Counties — putting the record straight
Published in ‘An Phoblacht’ August 30th 2007 in its Mála Poist section:-
I refer to the Remembering the Past column (An Phoblacht 16 August) dealing with the historic interview with Gerry Adams on 98FM in August 1992. As in this article, the interview is often referred to as the first time Adams’ voice was broadcast “by any station in the 26 Counties”. This, however, is incorrect.
Over six years previously, in February 1987 during a general election campaign, a local Limerick station known as Raidió Luimní interviewed Adams and myself (who was the Sinn Féin candidate in Limerick East in that election) for nearly an hour in a programme that also included a phone-in. This popular station was run by the late John Frawley, a rather colourful personality known locally as John the Man. It was John who approached Sinn Féin in Limerick to ask that Adams do the interview in the full knowledge of the implications this would have in light of the infamous Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act. However, as he explained to us at the time, he considered that all parties in the election were entitled to have their views heard by the electorate and he did not have to agree with Sinn Féin in order to defend its right to be heard.
The programme was heard all over Limerick City and County, and also in parts of Clare and Tipperary, and was reported on by some of the national and local print media. Needless to say, local establishment politicians were somewhat less than gracious in their response and there was much spluttering of outrage and tut-tuting at the temerity of it all.
While the 98FM interview was much more momentous and of greater importance due to the circumstances of the time and its 26 County-wide coverage, John Frawley’s challenge to the prevailing climate of censorship and repression (and indeed self-censorship by much of the media) deserves to be remembered.
Adams’ interview on Raidio Luimní may be a little historical oddity (and as such easily forgotten) but it remains a matter of historical fact nonetheless.