When Radio Was Wireless -Documentary about Moydrum radio history on Athlone Community Radio
The radio documentary ‘Athlone Calling’ is about one of the most amazing heritage sites in Athlone – The Moydrum radio transmitter. This programme will be broadcasted on Athlone Community Radio 88.4fm on Wednesday 2nd of July from 6-7 pm and replayed on Saturday 2.30 – 3.30. There will be a public gathering in the Aidan Heavy Library where the public can come and listen to the programme on Thursday 3rd of July from 5.30 – 6.30.
‘Athlone Calling’ is an hour long documentary that was produced by Athlone Community Radio and supported by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Sound and Vision Scheme. This programme tells the story of ‘how the town of Athlone became known across the broadcasting world, the story behind the purpose-built transmitter at Moydrum to house the famous Marconi transmitter but most importantly it is the story of those who worked in Moydrum, the story of those who listened to programmes on their radio crystal sets and about a small group of enthusiasts who set up the Athlone Marconi Heritage Group to ensure that the Moydrum Transmitter and it’s three generations of equipment will be preserved for future generations.’ – stated the part of the script written by well known Athlone Historian and Librarian Gearoid O’Brien.
The Moydrum transmitter was built on the grounds of Moydrum Castle, whose ruins are famously featured on the cover of the U2 album ‘Unforgettable Fire’. The Transmitter was brought into service prematurely in 1932 to broadcast Eucharistic Congress to the people of Ireland and the world. For the first time the people of Ireland heard the voice of the Pope and Athlone’s golden voice John Count McCormack. The official opening of the first high powered radio transmitter station in the Free State came in 1933 when Eamon de Valera addressed the people of Ireland on the airwaves. A part of his speech was impersonated in the documentary by local actor Clive Darling.
‘I thought it was our duty as a local community radio to make a documentary about Moydrum. It wasn’t only about the amazing set up with three generations of transmitters, unique in the world but about people. I interviewed our contributors Jim Kearns, who worked there for 40 years and Tommy Mollan, RTE engineer inside the Moydrum buildings and the echoes of that time could be heard in the documentary – when the Marconi’s 1000watt transmitter needed to be water cooled and when one cable from Dublin was a matter of national importance’ – said Irena Cvetkovic, producer and editor of ‘Athlone Calling’ documentary.
The valuable contributors to this programme were the members of St Mary’s Active Retirement Group evoking the memories of Moydrum, Geoffrey Foy whose family shop in Church Street supplied radio sets to locals, Carmel Feeney with a story ‘Our Old Radio’ and Martin Hanley local Amateur Radio enthusiast and the initiator of the idea to save Moydrum. The last part of the documentary is about the efforts of locals to keep Moydrum as a museum and a heritage site and brings interviews with cllr Alan Shaw and recordings from a recent public meeting where the first draft of the Feasibility Study was presented.
The script was written by Gearoid O’Brien, narrator is Phillip Gillen, sound editing Johnny Callaghan, editor, interviewer and producer – Irena Cvetkovic.