Legal loopholes and government instability allowed hundreds of illegal radio stations to flourish in Ireland during the late 1970s and 1980s. Many of the stations played popular music and featured colorful radio personalities; stations also ran paid advertising and often paid their taxes despite their tenuous legal status. In late 1988, the law changed again and Ireland began to shut down its unlicensed stations. This pirate radio movement changed the face of Irish broadcasting, and modern commercial radio in Ireland is deeply influenced by it. The traces of its history reveal the cultural, social, governmental, and economic forces at work in 1970s and 80s Ireland.
The recently-created Irish Pirate Radio Audio Archives (IPRAA) has organized community events in an effort to preserve and make freely available content from this era, as well as contemporary oral histories. Panelists from the archive, John Walsh and Brian Greene, will be joined by veteran pirate radio presenter Sybil Fennell to discuss the history and implications of this underexplored corner of Irish broadcasting and its legacy as represented in community archival practice.