RAIDIÓ ÓGLAIGH NA hÉIREANN
Widely acknowledged as the world’s first ever pirate radio broadcaster, Raidió Óglaigh na hÉireann was operated by rebel forces in the centre of Dublin under fire from the British Army during the Easter Rising of 1916.
The Irish Volunteers had taken control of the GPO and other strategic buildings and had declared a new nation, the Irish Republic, to be free from British rule.
Fearing that the declaration would not be heard beyond the steps of the GPO, the rebel army commandeered a building at the corner of Sackville St and Abbey St, which was home to The Irish School of Wireless, which had been closed in 1914 as a result of the British war effort. The aerial on the roof needed to be re-erected under gun fire and a 1.5kW transmitter was used to broadcast morse code messages. The hope was that a ship would hear the signal and relay the message further afield.
To this point wireless communication had usually been point to point; this broadcast had been made commercially to anybody capable of receiving it.
The first transmission took place on the evening of April 25th on 600 metres and was broadcast continually. More messages were broadcat on Tuesday morning with the broadcasts ranging over (almost) twenty four hours. Eventually, with the building engulfed in flames, the transmission was stopped and the men made an attempt to transport the equipment, on foot and under a hail of bullets, across the road to the GPO. The plan was to continue the broadcasts from the new location but they were unable to retrieve all of the necessary equipment.
It is believed that at least one ship heard the broadcast as American newspapers were quicker off the mark in reporting the Rising than their British counterparts.
The text of the message that was broadcast is as follows…
Irish Republic declared today in Dublin. Irish troops have captured city and are in full possession. Enemy cannot move in city.