That’s Pirate Radio Part 1 – Radio Dublin 253

June 5, 2007 at 11:30 pm 47 comments

This is the first post in a series about a bizarre decade in Dublin – the pirate radio era from Radio Dublin, A.R.D. and Big D in the 1970s to Sunshine, Nova and Q102 in the 1980s. It was a craze without rules, where anyone with enough nerve and a half-decent record collection could make up an exotic ‘DJ name’ and defy the law.

During my final years in secondary school, I started listening to crackly signals from Radio Dublin on my new portable radio. I soon joined thousands of teens in a protest march, calling for the pirates to be legalised. Then I started visiting Radio Dublin, at first answering the phone and taking requests. >>>

Aidan Jay

For an hour every Sunday evening my friend Aidan Cooney became ‘Aidan Jay’ and ruled the capital’s airwaves from Studio One of Radio Dublin 253. Well, okay then, from the front room of a small terraced house in Inchicore, with the carpet and wallpaper heavily patterned in high-quality kitsch.

Aidan sat facing a microphone, a mixer, two vinyl record decks and a net-curtained window looking onto the front garden. There was a cassette tape deck to his right for playing ads; and to his left a domestic fireplace and a chipped statuette of Jesus, presumably to protect us from evil.

758684

The transmitter was hidden in an upstairs bedroom, and the aerial was on a large pole in the back garden. As Aidan played the music, I sat in a cramped back room scribbling down requests phoned in, mainly by giggly schoolgirls, to 758684.

We were protected from police raids by a CCTV system at the front door, a reinforced steel door inside, and the fact that the only policeman I ever saw near the station wanted a request played for his girlfriend Deborah.

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Entry filed under: Culture, Favourites, Most Discussed.

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47 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John  |  June 6, 2007 at 8:25 am

    Is Aidan Cooney from Radio Dublin Aidan Cooney from TV3?

    Reply
  • 2. Michael Nugent  |  June 6, 2007 at 9:11 am

    He is indeed a younger model of the same gentleman.

    Reply
  • 3. Twenty Major  |  June 6, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Cool, looking forward to the rest of these posts. Were there two houses in Inchicore because when I used to work there I seem to remember it as quite big?

    Reply
  • 4. Michael Nugent  |  June 6, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Yes, the original one was 3 Sarsfield Road, which was Cooke’s domestic house (well, more like a domestic house after a visit from the A-Team). He had to move in the late seventies when a neighbour took out an injunction against the station. He first moved a few doors down the road, then ended up on Inchicore Road.

    Reply
  • 5. Paige Harrison  |  June 6, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Two things I loved about Radio Dublin.

    (a) How they used to cue up a record (kids, ask your Dad) then turn on the turn table. The sound of Otis Redding singing from a standing start would make you think it was going to be a song by Philomena Begley (ask your mum).

    (b) For the six o’clock news, they’d formally announce that they were going over to their news room. You then heard a man turn the radio dial over to RTE Radio 1. The one minute angelus delay was so useful!

    Memories….
    Paige

    Reply
  • 6. Michael Nugent  |  June 7, 2007 at 7:41 am

    What still sticks in my mind is the jingle –

    I like it, I like it, I like it, I like it…
    We’ve got the sounds
    You want to listen to
    Don’t mess around, it’s got to be
    Hang in
    To Dublin Radio
    Tune in, 253

    Reply
  • 7. Twenty Major  |  June 7, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Man, it was a really strange place.

    http://twentymajor.net/2007/03/01/its-funny-the-people-you-know/

    Reply
  • 8. Michael Nugent  |  June 7, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Twenty, I love the bit from your link where Cooke asks ‘Are you a thief?’ Because that, presumably, would be crossing the line with regard to his code of ethics.

    Reply
  • 9. Twenty Major  |  June 7, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Yeah, I don’t know why that line stuck with me. Even the world’s biggest thief would have been hard pressed to find anything in that house worth nicking.

    And considering his recent exposure, if you’ll pardon the expression, it does seem funny.

    Reply
  • 10. Richie Kearns  |  February 16, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Check out the radio Milinda site at
    http://www.radiomilinda.com
    I have just started to put stuff up. Anyone out there with info or photos or press cuttings to share…I’d be most greatful..
    Thanks Folks

    Reply
  • 11. Tommy Keenan  |  October 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    I was the best DJ at Big D.
    I am now an even more succesful big noise in England on BBC Radio. They say the greatest go on to bigger and better things.

    Reply
  • 12. Chris Thompson  |  December 2, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Thanks for the memories. I was DJ on Radio Dublin between 1984 and 1986 roughly, mainly on Saturday mornings. James Redmond was on after me, followed by Pia Kinsella doing the the Top 30 show. A very popular show during the week was hosted by Tracy Evans ( I think). On my first show, an overnight, I was warned to be on guard for the station’s resident ghost Ermitrude. I loved my time there before moving for a while to LLCR, Liberties Local Community Radio off Cork Street and then spent a couple of years on St James Hospital Radio.

    Hi to any former station dj-s and listeners.

    Reply
    • 13. george  |  January 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      I was there too!!! Called Mark Harris in those days!!

      Reply
  • 14. Miami1908  |  January 9, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    I was there from ’78 to ’83. The rot had well and truly set it from about late ’81 around the time Angie got pregnant. The place was falling asunder and any one even who knocked at the door got a job as DJ.

    Reply
  • 15. Declan O'Callaghan  |  January 23, 2009 at 12:53 am

    Many years ago and more than I care to remember. I knocked on the front door of Radio Dublin “1974”. This started a life time love of radio and music. A love affair which has stayed with me to this day. I produce and present a three hour radio show in Sydney. The show is on relay around Australia,Tasmania and New Zealand. Thanks to the web, my family in Ireland tune in to enjoy.Radio Dublin than you for the many tears of enjoyment you gave the people of Dublin, And thanks for all the spin off.

    Declan O’Callaghan Sydney…

    Reply
  • 16. Declan O'Callaghan  |  January 23, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Many years ago and more than I care to remember. I knocked on the front door of Radio Dublin “1974”. This started a life time love of radio and music. A love affair which has stayed with me to this day. I produce and present a three hour radio show in Sydney. The show is on relay around Australia,Tasmania and New Zealand. Thanks to the web, my family in Ireland tune in to enjoy.Radio Dublin thank you for the many years of enjoyment you gave the people of Dublin, And thanks for all the spin off.

    Declan O’Callaghan Sydney…

    Reply
  • 17. aidan cooney  |  February 26, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Great memories, I was on the Radio Dublin Capel Miami holiday trip with john everest, shay byrne, barry lang and shay west – oh and mike eastwood. A great idea and well ahead of its time.

    Over 100 listerners came on the trip while Cookie and Co stayed at home. Would love to know what happed to John Everest ? He presented the mid morning show after my breakfast show during that summer when 2fm came on…..

    Reply
    • 18. Sean Brophy  |  March 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Mike Eastwood was recently telling stories re the Miami trip. Very exotic for that era as very few Irish would have gone to Florida then

      Reply
    • 19. Shay Byrne  |  May 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      I remember it well Aidan, Barry, me (Shay) Mike and Declan or John as he was known, and James Martin, (Murphy) we had some fantastic times back then I was only a youngster as was Barry and Aidan great to see Mr Cooney doing well, and Barry is now a Pilot. me I’m back in college like Adrain st James. and i still pop up every now and then on radio, Once its in your blood it’s addictive now that sounds like a tag.!! “whatever happened to the No1 Dj in Dublin at the time the popular Kevin Barrett” Thanks for the memories….

      .

      Reply
    • 20. Linda Sullivan  |  July 2, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      I was a listener who went on the Miami trip one of the best holidays I ever had great memories we stayed in the Versailles hotel can remember the Miami herald comming down and interviewing all of us 👍

      Reply
  • 21. Adrian St. James  |  April 7, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Hi there I am Adrian St. James and I was on Radio Dublin for over 8 years.For all of that time I presented sunday morning 10 am to 12 noon,it was called Morningh Call International.
    I also did a stint on drivetime , I think it was 1981.
    I have many cassette tapes of these shows. It was a truly magic time ! My life path took me in other directions for many years, but I never lost the passion for radio so much so that I have just completed the first year of a two year course in Radio Broadcasting. I hope soon to be involved with radio again.

    Reply
    • 22. niall o horain  |  May 12, 2012 at 8:31 am

      hi adrian (gosh its been a long time) i used to answer the phones for you on a sunday morning .i also used to help you with that very long wooden box full of singles. i do remember one raid by the h-block- bobby sands protesters . i went on to present a sunday evening programme after angie and just before the gorgerous kevin barrett regards to all niall hayes (neil)

      Reply
      • 23. Adrian Nolan  |  May 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm

        Hi Niall,
        Now there’s a blast from the past! Was thinking of you recently when I came across the running order for ‘The Story of Radio Caroline’ that we did together. Do you remember sitting in the corner of the studio cueing up the cassettes with the next segment for the show?
        Hope you are well and are you still involved wuth radio?
        ASJ The Big Bopper,
        Morning Call International,, wherever you are, we are.

  • 24. niall o horain  |  May 15, 2012 at 6:57 am

    loads of great memories not doing radio anymore last heard on capitol 95.8 would jump at the chance again. i know eamon’s in jail whatever happend with angie ?? i remember she was pregnant at that time . all those sundays ago i used to jump on a bus to fleet street where the lads shay byrne etc would go to sloopys. i was too young . anyway i’m too old now ha ha regards to all niall hayes (neil)

    Reply
    • 25. Shay Byrne  |  May 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      Niall twas!.A different kind of radio then it was fun now it’s a business. and i must say great to read this and remember when it was records 12″ and 7″ had Arms. and Grooves and “that was just me.”.lol The Kids TODAY!! Dont know they are born with Myriad Adobe and the likes just listening to Garreth in the afternoon.. TONY GARRETH REMEMBER HIM. was talking to Jimmy Murphy a while ago about Nicky Kiely, Kevin Barret Pat Gill, Pat James Cyril Walsh, The main man Jim Kenny, Mike Eastwood, Eugene Elliot, Shay West,The Big Bopper ASJ, Tom Byrne,Dj Lee John O’Hara John Everest And all the backround staff, people who worked the phones sales teams that kept it going It was very enjoyable and the people who passed the doors Jimmy Savell Lady Valerie Goulding, U2 More than once Stepaside and all around a piano stool and a set of Decks and if you where lucky 2 Mics LoL.. “thanks smiling as i write” lol.

      Reply
    • 26. Angie Meier  |  August 17, 2013 at 7:44 am

      I grew up, went to court and faced him, helped put him away and keep kids safe while he is locked up. Other than that I have had a very happy life, got married, raised a family who I am immensely proud of. Angie, thanks for asking Niall

      Reply
      • 27. George Talbot  |  August 17, 2013 at 3:34 pm

        Well Done,Angie

      • 28. Adrian St. James  |  August 18, 2013 at 9:14 am

        Hi Angie,
        Don’t know what to say, but I am glad you and the kids are alright. If we knew then what we know now, maybe things would have been different. However, onwards and upwards I say, sorry you are not on the wireless anymore. I was away from radio for many a long year, but thanks to the late Jim Kenny & Joe Doyle I found my way back onto it in 2009 with Hot Country. I am currently working with Spirit Radio, its still a great buzz but different than the old days,
        Take care of yourself and the kids, and have a good life,
        The Big Bopper,
        Adrian St. James.
        (Adrian Nolan)

      • 29. niall o horain (neil hayes)  |  August 19, 2013 at 6:35 am

        hi angie i’m glad you are well. i remember all the sunday gang from all those years ago with fond memories. you brought me back a small present from the miami trip (a little plate with my name spelt the americian way) (neal) memories indeed. i am alittle bit behind you family wise late starter i guess. but my son is gonna be 3 in september nice to know u did well. regards neil hayes

  • 30. george  |  January 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    memories are made of this!!
    I was twice on those Miami trips and still have photos

    Reply
  • 31. George Talbot  |  April 4, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Wow,Ive just revisited this page and recognised some of the names on here…I was Mark Harris way back then, but left and went to work for Capital,and then Nova using my own name,I eventually went to ERI in Cork for the final 3 years up to the official closure on 31st Dec.

    Reply
  • 32. Jimmy Murphy  |  October 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Jesus! George, Angie, Aidrian, Aidan, Shay…who else will turn up here? Hope you’re all well.

    Reply
    • 33. Adrian St. James  |  October 14, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      Old pirates never die! how do Jimmy
      Adrian St. James

      Reply
  • 34. George Talbot  |  October 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Hi Jimmy…
    Long time no hear!!!
    George

    Reply
  • 35. Jimmy Murphy  |  November 10, 2013 at 10:39 am

    All good here, looking forward to hearing Mike and Keith over the Christmas. George can you post any photos from Miami here?

    Reply
  • 36. Jimmy Murphy  |  November 10, 2013 at 10:47 am

    And you Aidrian! Weren’t you on it (xmas fm) last Christmas?

    Reply
    • 37. Adrian St. James  |  November 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Jimmy,
      I was and I am back on this year its starts broadcasting from 28th Nov,
      ASJ.

      Reply
  • 38. apprendre à jouer au poker  |  December 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm

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  • 39. Mike Stone  |  May 13, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Howaya.

    Just checking in.

    Mike.

    Reply
  • 40. Tracy Evans  |  August 3, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you Mike Thompson for your very kind remarks about my show on Radio Dublin! Still broadcasting on Liffeysound96.4fm📀🎙

    Reply
  • 41. Pia  |  September 26, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Hi everybody! Pia Kinsella here. I would like to say a Big Hello to everyone who listened to my radio show, and to all the former station DJs. I cannot believe so much time has gone past. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was sitting at the decks in Radio Dublin playing requests for all my fans. I must post some photos up of my great trip to Miami in 1981 and of me at the decks. I still have all the thousands of letters I received from the listeners in boxes. Gosh what great times I had on air! Thanks to Singer Mary Black and Golden Discs for sponsoring my Top 40 show. Hi to Mark Grace; I enjoyed our Wednesday night show “Double Trouble.” Hope you are all well. Hi to everyone that used to go to the Star Rollerrink in Crumlin on Saturday nights where I was also a DJ. Would like to hear from any DJs or anyone who listened to my show. Bye for now, Pia.

    Reply
    • 42. Adrian st James  |  September 30, 2016 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Pia cannot believe this it’s Adrian here, you were my top telephonist on a Sunday morning, we were legend, love to catch up with you! Unbelievable!

      Reply
  • 43. Steven  |  September 30, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    Hi Pia, I used to listen to your top 40 show and loved it, I was a big fan of Radio Dublin and was around at the station a few times when it was in Sarsfield road (with my dad after I pestered him to bring me around, as my granny lived close by)

    Here is one of my old tapes I digitised and put on Youtube, you doing the top 40 rundown.

    I googled several of the old DJ’s to see what they looked like but theres nothing on the internet for Pia Kinsella… how do you keep hidden away? I always wondered what the lady behind the sexy voice looked like.

    Anyway, I have fond memories of Radio Dublin. Love to all

    Steven

    Reply
  • 44. Ray Jackson  |  October 27, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Certainly a blast from the past to see so many old and familiar names! My time with the station was short, arrived and went in 1981. Still regularly have a pint with Mike Doyle after all these years and enjoyed a Channel 2 reunion a number of years ago. Should really consider a 253 reunion while we are all still standing?! As for me I did bits and pieces of radio stuff over the years before co-founding Christmas FM (sorry!!) in 2008. Probably as close as I can get to the spirit of the old days.

    Reply
  • 45. Pia Kinsella  |  November 7, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Everyone. Pia here again. I would just like to thank Steven for putting up the YouTube link. Hello also to Adrian; I remember well those Sunday mornings in Radio Dublin. That’s how I got started. Hello also to Mike Eastwood, my brother David’s friend who introduced me to the station, and started a long and successful career as a DJ. I will have to get my old photos digitised and then post them up, especially my Miami photos with all the DJs in 1981 and including my beloved mother. We had a great time!
    Bye for now,
    Pia

    Reply
    • 46. Steven  |  November 7, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      Pia, if youre near Kells and need photos scanned let me know.

      Reply
  • 47. Miami beach  |  August 31, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Jesus, for the ’78 to 81 crew, we gotta arrange a meet up guys. Pia I’d love to see those photos. We lost old Pat Gill a few years ago, God be good to him. Don’t know what he died of but he was far too young. Remember that car of his?

    Reply

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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.

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Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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