POSTED: April 21, 2020
According to The Journal, Ireland has heard many tributes today to
Ronan O’Rahilly, the founder of the iconic pirate radio station Radio Caroline, who died yesterday aged 79.
Broadcasting from off the UK shore, it was one of the first pop music stations and had an estimated listenership of 25 to 30 million in the mid- to late-1960s.
It gave many DJs who were to become household names their break – including Tony Blackburn, Simon Dee and Johnnie Walker.
Hot Press adds that O’Rahilly
passed away near Greenore in County Louth where the station’s original boat was kitted out in 1963, eventually going on to launch from the North Sea at Easter 1964.
Having merged with a rival pirate Atlanta Radio, a second ship, Radio Caroline North, dropped anchor off the Isle of Man with the signal thumping into Ireland. Both the South and North ships continued broadcasting until 1968 when they were forcibly towed away by a Dutch maritime supply company who claimed that Ronan owed them a considerable sum of money.
The station returned from one of the original ships in 1972, but closed in 1980 when the MV Mi Amigo sank during heavy North Sea storms.
Against all the odds, Ronan masterminded another watery comeback in 1983 aboard the MV Ross Revenge.
Caroline’s 27 year unlicensed career ended in 1991 following a sustained campaign against it by the British, Belgian and Dutch authorities, which culminated in the former Icelandic trawler being raided and equipment removed.
He became a follower of Ram Dass in the seventies and launched a band called Loving Awareness to spread a worldwide message or, erm, loving awareness. Most of them later formed The Blockheads.
You can find a detailed obituary at the still continuing Radio Caroline website.