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Connacht Tribune

Pirates of the airwaves get their day in sun

Judy Murphy



John Walsh who began his broadcasting career in pirate stations in Dublin during the 1980s, later went on to work as a journalist with RTÉ and was involved in setting up Teilifís na Gaeilge, now TG4. He's now a lecturer in NUIG. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY

Lifestyle – Pirate radio made its first impact on Ireland in the 1970s, gaining a firm foothold in the 1980s, as it pushed boundaries in terms of content and technology. While the industry was unregulated and fiercely competitive, it nurtured new talent and helped change society and broadcasting. Former journalist John Walsh, who began his career in a pirate station, tells JUDY MURPHY about recording its rich history.

Radio – whether it’s on in the background as we’re doing housework at home or keeping us company on our walks or car journeys, it is part of our daily lives, offering us music, chat and news; local, national and international. And even with increasing competition from podcasts, radio remains hugely popular.

These days, radio in this country is well-regulated by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.  But it wasn’t always that way and in the 1980s, the radio landscape was ‘like the law of the jungle’ according to NUIG lecturer and former journalist John Walsh.

Dubliner John who began his broadcasting career as a student in the 1980s on pirate radio, has teamed up with his friend and former pirate colleague Brian Greene to capture that era via the online website,

The many pirate stations that existed throughout Ireland from the 1970s onwards are now part of history, but they played a huge role in shaping our current radio environment, he says. Not to mention that they added colour and diversity to what had been a monochrome society, as they pushed boundaries technically and in terms of content.

“It would be too simplistic to say they modernised Ireland but they were part of that process,” John says.

However, because these were illegal stations, their history has never been properly archived, explains the lecturer for whom this is a personal project, separate from his job in the university.

Given John’s enthusiasm for the subject and his vast knowledge, it’s clear that creating this open and free archive on is a labour of love for him and for Brian who works in Phoenix Community Radio in Blanchardstown.

They set up the website two years ago to mark the 30th anniversary of the closure of pirate radio.  Legislation was introduced in 1988 to formalise independent and local radio services and regulate what “had been a jungle”, John outlines.

Several pirate stations from Galway feature in their online archive, including the short-lived community radio, Independent Radio Galway, and commercial stations such as Atlantic Sound, Coast 103 and WLS.

Listening to clips from these on the website is like travelling back in time to Ireland and Galway of the 1980s.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Exploring the merits of moving into the west

Dave O'Connell



Mary Kennedy with Carol Ho, one of the Galway interviewees for her new TG4 series, Moving West. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.

“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.

These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.

But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.

Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.

One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.

The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing

Dave O'Connell



Well saved...members of St Brendan's GAA Club honour their departed stalwart, John Geraghty, after a record-breaking evening saving his turf.

A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.

They lifted and footed his turf.

John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.

He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.

“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.

Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!

“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.

Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.

They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.

Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

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Connacht Tribune

Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat

Denise McNamara



Daddy’s girl…Sadhbh Browne with her very special message on organ donations. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.

After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.

“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”

But it could have all been so different.

Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.

She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.

Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.

Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.

Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from

Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.

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