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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 19 September, 2019
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37 Irish radio stations will broadcast rebel morse code this evening at the exact same time

100 years ago today, the first radio broadcast was sent out in Ireland.

radio Source: The Sound of Sixteen

TODAY MARKS THE 100th anniversary of the first radio broadcast in Ireland.

100 years ago today, Irish volunteers taking part in the events of the 1916 Easter Rising sent a morse code message out into the airwaves in order to try to alert the world to what was happening.

The rebels managed to take over the Wireless School of Telegraphy, which was located just 190 metres from the GPO at 10-11 Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street).

From there, they sent out the transmission – a message written by James Connolly and translated into morse code by David Burke. It read:

Irish Republic declared in Dublin today. Irish troops have captured city and are in full possession. Enemy cannot move in city. The whole country rising.

To commemorate the centenary of the transmission, 37 radio stations across the nation will broadcast the morse code message set against battlefield sounds that seek to convey the atmosphere of the Rising at 5.30 pm this evening.

l-r Eoin Conlon, Boys and Girls, Jenny Greene, RTE, Joe Duffy RTE, Dee Woods, Radio Nova and Bobby Kerr, Newstalk Figures from radio commemorating the first broadcast in Ireland

Entitled The Sound of Sixteen, it is a joint initiative between RTÉ radio and the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI).

There is also a website set up that tells the story of the first broadcast using visual and audio aids. The project was devised by Dublin-based creative agency Boys and Girls.

The story of the first broadcast

The broadcast was the brainchild of one of the leaders of the rising, Joseph Mary Plunkett, who had the idea to bypass British censorship and to get the message of the rising out over the airwaves.

Volunteers erected an aerial on the roof of the School Of Telegraphy while under heavy sniper fire.

As the receiving apparatus that they were using wasn’t working properly, they were unable to send the transmission to a direct ship or station.

They had no choice then but to send the broadcast out over the commercial wavelength, in the hope that it would picked up and relayed onto America.

The broadcast was heard by stations in Germany and boats in the Atlantic. With some reports that it was even picked up by fishermen in Japan.

By Wednesday afternoon, shellfire from the boat the Helga meant that volunteers had to abandon the Wireless School.

Visit www.thesoundofsixteen.ie for more information on the first broadcast. 

Read: QUIZ: The hardest Easter Rising quiz you’ll do for another 100 years

Read: It’s 100 years to the day since the Easter Rising began

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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