Ireland had a unique and vibrant pirate radio scene which peaked between 1978 and 1988 before legalisation of independent radio. Hundreds of stations – ranging from the community and the political to large-scale commercial operations – transformed the staid official radio landscape and threatened the single public broadcaster (Mulryan, 1988). The persistence of pirates in Ireland and other countries underlines how the sector continues to subvert the consensus and to revolutionise the licensed radio industry with which it shares a band (Tacchi, 2000;
Schlosberg, 2011; van der Hoeven, 2012). However, the sector remains understudied, in part due to the lack of primary and secondary audio sources related to it. An audio archive of Irish pirate radio is being developed as part of the commemoration of the clampdown on the unlicensed broadcasting sector 30 years ago. Pirate.ie is a free and open archive and comprises historical recordings and oral history interviews. The aim is to build a sustainable audio archive of pirate radio for future generations based on existing digitised material and new, previously
unheard recordings. In this paper, we present the archive and illustrate how it provides an invaluable insight into the development of Irish radio as a social medium in the 1970s and 1980s. Due to the size and relative freedom of the pirate radio sector in Ireland, we argue that the deep social impact of this movement created a lasting legacy of
broadcasting standards and high radio listenership rates and a more media-influenced cultural scene.