Radio Retro Feature: On the seventh day…switch on

So who were the stations? As mentioned, the first of the breed we’re interested in for the purposes of this feature is the daddy of them all: Raidió Baile Átha Cliath, which translates to Radio Dublin.

The rest of the stations are documented in alphabetical order and in many cases the Radiowaves station page will contain an expansion of the information presented here.

This list is far from exhaustive and contributions are encouraged.

Raidió Baile Átha Cliath

Founded in 1966 by Ken Sheehan, following tests, from the humblest of beginnings Raidió Baile Átha Cliath would go on to become the longest-running pirate station not only in Ireland, but the world, and would write a history – good, bad and downright ugly – that could fill a curriculum.

From Ken’s home in Drimnagh, it would very irregularly broadcast for a couple of hours on Sundays.

The station moved to Prince Terry’s home in Crumlin in 1968 and Sunday broadcasts continued from there, although still very sporadic.

Sunday transmissions became more regular from 1969 with Prince Terry and Mark Tee usually on air from noon to 2.30pm.

The station closed in October 1972 due to P&T activity but returned for irregular transmissions over the following months – on shortwave and medium wave.

It was this period that Éamonn Cooke and Dr Don became involved.

Eventually they returned to regular Sunday afternoon broadcasts and by 1978 they were broadcasting a full week’s schedule.

Station Page

Here’s a sample of Raidió Baile Átha Cliath from 1971

A Radio Dublin recording from October 1972. They were closing due to P&T activity.

Paul Downey on the guest DJ slot for Radio Dublin in 1976

An Anorak Hour interview with Prince Terry which gives an insight into Radio Dublin’s early days and includes some clips of the station.

Capitol Radio

Capitol Radio came late to the game in terms of this list of stations, but one of the station’s founders – Ed MacDowell – had run Radio Empathy earlier in the decade, and had a day out in court into the bargain.

Capitol Radio’s history is split into two distinct periods.

After a long absence, it returned in 1978 as a full-time broadcaster, but it is the 1975 broadcasts we are most concerned with here.

Having launched in August from a studio in Rathmines, Capitol broadcast on Sundays and Fridays.

It finished 1975 on a horrendous note, being raided on Sunday December 21st.
They returned the following Sunday to explain the situation to their listeners and, apart from another short burst of activity, they remained off air until 1978.

Station Page

The Alan Russell Show from December 7th 1975

The Alan Russell Show from December 14th 1975

A short snippet of Ed MacDowall on Capitol Radio’s return on December 28th 1975 following the raid on the station the previous week

Channel 70

Channel 70 launched as Radio Jacqueline in 1966 and remained on air until 1973 on 1320kHz with an approximate power of 100w.
They also had regular programmes in the early hours at weekends.
Station Page

A recording of Channel 70 from June 1971

Radio Atlantis

Radio Atlantis broadcast from Naas, Co Kildare in 1971. It was run by Johnny Day and presenters included Jimmy St Ledger, Alistair Mac and The Duke. Incredibly, for the time, it used FM.
Station Page

Radio Caroline Dublin

In Summer 1969 Radio Romeo launched on 300metres and were on air Tuesday afternoons and Saturday nights.

In 1970 they changed name to Radio Caroline Dublin and broadcasts moved to Fridays and Saturdays, and later they came on only on Sundays.

Jiving Johnny Kay, Mike Walker and Mick Wright were the presenters and Saturday night fare often included a programme of DXing tips.
Station Page

Radio Caroline Dublin

Here’s a sample of Radio Caroline Dublin from November 1970

Radio Cobweb

Radio Cobweb was a Cork station ran by Jack O’Regan from his garden shed in 1971. Jack had earlier been responsible for Radio Skywave.
Station Page

Radio Eamo

Radio Eamo was run by Éamon McGovern. The long-running station broadcast progressive music on 300m MW, usually on Saturday afternoons.
Station Page

Radio Empathy

Radio Empathy first appeared in 1972 based in Churchtown and operated by Ed MacDowall.

As well as their MW transmissions the station also launched experimental broadcasts on 98.8MHz on the VHF band.

On April 6th 1974, Ed MacDowall was on air when the station suddenly disappeared at 1.10pm.
Empathy had been raided and the authorities took everything.

The station never returned and Ed MacDowall appeared in court in 1975 but was let off as it was his first offence.

Ed went on to become one of the founders of Capitol Radio.

Station Page

Ed MacDowall at Capitol

Here’s a Radio Empathy sign off from 1973

A short clip of Radio Empathy from 1974

Radio Galaxy

Radio Galaxy was the Tony Boylan incarnation for the time period under review. Usually on air between 1 and 2pm on 200metres, the range of music covered the whole spectrum of 78rpms until he closed down in 1972! 
Station Page

Here’s a Radio Galaxy sign off from 1970

Radio North Dublin

Radio North Dublin was available on 217metres.

Station Page

A very short clip of Radio North Dublin (from Radio Valleri documentary)

Radio Milinda

Radio Milinda was born in September 1972 and died at the hands of the State. They were just three months on air when they became the first station ever to be raided in Ireland. Broadcasts were regular on 300m from their studios in Gloucester Place.

Station Page

A couple of samples of Radio Milinda (from Radio Valleri documentary)

Radio Santa Monica

Radio Santa Monica appeared in 1965 but was very irregular, making just a few appearances each year. It lasted to the 1970s.
Station Page

Radio Sixty Six

Radio Sixty Six was based in the north-east of the country. It was usually on air on Saturday and Sunday nights playing country music and Showband artistes.

Radio Sundown

Radio Sundown was a Cork station which broadcast from Blarney Street on 230metres.
Station Page

Radio Valleri

Radio Valleri are best remembered as a short wave station but they actually first appeared in July 1972 as a medium wave operation, lasting around two months.

It was October 1973 that they returned as a short wave outfit.

Ran, with great enthusiasm by Derek Jones and Mike Anderson, Radio Valleri broadcast from a garden shed in the north Dublin area and became a regular feature on Sundays.

Station Page

A short snippet of Derek Jones on air in 1974

From Radio Retro, a documentary looking at the free radio scene of the 60s/70s

Tap here

Radio Vanessa

Radio Vanessa launched from Tolka Estate in Dublin in September 1970 with programmes running for an hour on Sundays from midday.
Probably not for the first time, nor the last, the station was named after a girl that they thought “was gorgeous”. Ceasing in 1981, Vanessa returned for a few sporadic broadcasts in early 1974.
Station Page

Radio Vanessa test tx from Summer 1970 with Kenneth Edwards (from Radio Valleri documentary)

Sunday World 1970s Dublin pirate radio stations

The recordings and images on this page come from a number of sources:-
Ian Biggar, Al Russell, Gary Hogg, Prince Terry, Ken Baird all deserve our undying gratitude for working to keep the memories alive. Radiowaves.fm is proud to play whatever small role we can.
radiowavesfm@radioanoraks.com