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 Cliathwould 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.
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 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.
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 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 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 Dublinand 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
Here’s a sample of Radio Caroline Dublin from November 1970
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 was run by Éamon McGovern. The long-running station broadcast progressive music on 300m MW, usually on Saturday afternoons. Station Page
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.
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
A very short clip of Radio North Dublin (from Radio Valleri documentary)
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.
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)
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. firstname.lastname@example.org