Dave Reddy and the Good Old Days

My beautiful picture

Dave Reddy, a local man from Sandymount, is probably best known for his involvement in Sandymount Community Radio and Ringsend Radio.

It ran from 1982 to 1989 in conjunction with Community Week, which was held at the end of May each year in Sandymount and Mid June in Ringsend. The excitement during community week was palpable. Children could been seen rehearsing their party piece for The Talent Show whenever they got a spare moment. Dogs and cats and even rabbits were wrestled into costumes for the pet fancy dress competition. The scouts set up camp on Sandymount Strand and let the locals try their hand at canoeing. Young ladies lined up in their best gunas in the hopes of being crowned Miss Sandymount. There were different activites organised for every single day from Arts and Crafts to group outings to the museum. Everyone was busy doing something – and everyone was tuned into Sandymount Radio to hear a running commentary or announcements of what would be happening the following day. Others were just standing patiently outside waiting to hear their request being played – your name being mentioned on the radio was pretty exciting stuff back then!

The first year Sandymount Community Radio was hosted in what is now known as Browne’s Deli and Café, the following year in Mario’s and then it moved to NewsFour’s old office on Seafort Avenue where they stayed for two or three years before moving over to what is now known as O’Brien’s Off Licence.

It was classed as a pirate radio station but back in those days nobody cared much about broadcasting laws and it was no big deal to have a pirate radio station. With Radio Sandymount having no real agenda except having fun and getting the locals involved at the community week they never got shut down or into much trouble. Our very own Ann Ingle, the former editor of NewsFour used to have her time behind the mic and Dave says she was a great broadcaster. Her daughters Róisín and Sarah would also get involved.

Other locals like Dave Mockler from Castle Park, Sandymount are fondly remembered for their time behind the mic and Rory McAuliffe from Sandymount Road would play the best rock that was on offer.

Dave also organised Ringsend Radio for their summer community week which also started in 1982 and went on for around 5 years. The first year was hosted in what is known now as ABEC Glass. Next door Dermot Morgan would be hard at it, rehearsing and writing sketches in an office that later became another of NewsFour’s homes. They moved upstairs in Con O’Donohue’s shop, now known as Spar for a year and were then above Sally O’Brien’s pub, now the Ship Wright, and finally they went to the Irishtown Food Store which was beside the Irishtown Pharmacy.

They used a small to medium ranged broadcasting system that would cover a three mile radius, broadcasting from 10am to 7pm and would go to all the events taking place throughout the weeks, talking to people and playing the interviews the next day on the radio. They also did a lot of live commentary mostly at the five-a-side football matches which were held at the Roslyn Park grounds with around 25 teams taking part. Charlie Sheen, who was the local Sandymount postman at the time, would do most of the live commentary there. And the late Peter Murphy of RTE, the Cross Country quiz man also from Castle Park, would get involved with the live work as would Shay Healy of Night Hawks. Another visitor to the station was well known RTE news reader Brian Dobson from Farney Park who showed his support. At the time he was working for Radio Nova.

Lots of big names got their break working for these stations. Two NewsFour journalists Damien Weldon and John Murray both have great careers in media in L.A and the UK. Another local man called Doug Murray from Merrion Road later became known as Electric Eddie and worked for 2fm, as did Suzanne Duffy. Aidan Leonard is now with RTE, Mick Nugent wrote the play I Keano and perhaps the most successful graduate was Uncle Bren the Kiddies friend, now better known as Mrs Brown (Brendan O’Carroll).

Dave says the radio and the activities of the week brought the whole community together. Dave was also associated with another large pirate station at the time. You may remember ARD radio which was one of the main pirate radio stations in Dublin. This was where the likes of Ian Dempsey and Tony Fenton came from.

The 1989 Hillsborough Disaster on the 15th of April 1989 meant that public liability insurance for all these types of events went through the roof. The whole community week suffered. With events scheduled for Roslyn Park, Sandymount Green, Lansdowne, The Wanderers Club, Railway Union, Sean Moore Park and The Strand all the organisers had to take out public liability insurance and what was once a reasonable fee became unaffordable and prohibitive for voluntary organisations. On top of that, legal radio stations took over and when everything went legal the then Minister Ray Burke was not amenable to any small community radio projects. He was completely focused on legitimate radio stations for political reasons. There was a three or four year period where no pirate radio station could get a look in at all. So the last big year of the local Community Weeks only happened due to being subsidised by Dublin Corporation.

Dave says “It would be great to get it all going again but the insurance problems would really have to be resolved.”

By Jason McDonnell