The Story as told from the location of the world's first pirate radio station.
‘The Army of the
The second broadcast on Wednesday was
‘British troops have been repulsed with great slaughter in the attempt to take the Irish position. The people are wildly enthusiastic for the new Government. Pearse is commanding.’
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Johnny O’Connor was second generation Irish. Johnny’s parents Jack and Mary lived in the East end of London where they had been born and grew up together knowing each other from their early school days. His father’s parents hailed from counties Cork and Kerry and his mother’s from Cork and Galway. His
Grandparents had left Ireland seeking a better life after the famine of the mid 19th century. Both his parents were tailors and proud of their Irish heritage with their house full of ‘Irish-Ireland’ traditions with history and music to the fore. The O’Connor family was made up of four sons and four daughters and their house was used as an IRA safe house during the War of Independence for IRA men on the run from the authorities in Dublin. In 1920 another son Joseph crossed the Irish Sea to help the cause and spent a number of years in prison. Mary O’Connor passed away in 1951 aged eighty four.
Johnny O’Connor joined the Irish Volunteers unit based in London. Initially there were two units founded in London, one on either side of the River Thames. Originally boasting over five hundred volunteers, the outbreak of World War One and the exodus of Irish men to fight for the British Army led to the merging of the two companies that now had just one hundred men. These men were trained in St. George’s Hall near the Elephant and Castle by men like brothers Joe and Martin Cassidy. One of O’Connor’s fellow Volunteers at the hall was one Michael Collins who would later have such a pivotal role in the formation of the Irish state.
A visit by the Commander of the Liverpool Volunteers Liam McNieve to the Volunteers headquarters at No.2 Dawson Street and to Bulmer Hobson, the organisations Quartermaster found that the idea of setting up a central location in Ireland for the units in Britain was met with resistance. McNieve had heard about an offer from the Plunkett family to use some of their land at Larkfield as a base for the men from London and Liverpool and after an inspection that offer was taken up. Finances that had been gathered in Britain and the personal wealth of the Plunkett family had been used to purchase mattresses, blankets and food supplies for the new camp.
On January 15th 1916 O’Connor made his way out of London for the very first time and across the Irish Sea through the Welsh port of Holyhead. Johnny reported that ‘ninety five percent of us had no relatives in Dublin and very little cash’. On his arrival at the North Wall he made his way to Neary’s Hotel on Parnell Street. For one pound a week, O’Connor had his own room and three square meals a day. Following a police raid on the hotel that discovered a cache of weapons in a room occupied by Volunteer Gilbert Lynch, Michael Collins arrived at the Hotel and told the Volunteers staying there that they should pack their bags immediately and to make their way to Kimmage.
This is a newspaper ad for the Northern Wireless School that was opened by Mr P.K. Turner and his brother who arrived from Manchester. The changed the name of the school to The Irish School of Wireless Telegraphy before dropping the name 'Telegraphy' to avoid confusion with a wireless school located in County Cork
Charles Reis's Jewelry shop on the corner of Sackville Street and Abbey Street where the Grand Central Bar is now located. On the upper floors of this building was located Mr. P.K. Turner's Irish School of Wireless which had been closed by the British Government at the outbreak of World War One.
A photograph of Sackville Street in 1916 and a blown up slide of Reis's with the canopy's down. On the 5th floor the station was located.
The broadcasts were logged on board HMS Adventure anchored in Dun Laoghaire harbour. The Naval operator was able to log the fact that the station was broadcasting with a Marconi Transmitter and included a SINPO rating in his report to his superiors.
(SINPO - Signal Interference Noise Propogation Overall)
This was the location of Germany's listening post that would broadcast to the Irish that all was as planned with the arms shipment and to listen for broadcasts to announce that the Rising was under way.
An amateur wireless receiver heard and noted the broadcasts but did not realise what they were. His notes only mentioned a small amount of the words broadcast but they matched the communiques used by the station. The operator in Wales was listening illegally to shipping in the Irish sea and transmissions from Caernavon wireless station.