History of the Irish
Coast Radio Station Service
first radio signals over water are credited to Marconi, on the 11th May,
During August 1898 Lloyds of London, set up a radio installation
to operate between Ballycastle (County Antrim) and Rathlin Island in the north
of Ireland. The tests
carried out were so successful, that Lloyds decided to equip all their signal
stations with radio equipment and thus the radio station at Malin head
came into being.
June 1901 Marconi had established a number of radio stations in England while in
Ireland he had built stations at Rosslare
By September 1909, the British
Post Office Wireless Telegraphy Section had been established and radio stations were
taken over from the Marconi Company and Lloyds. These stations provided
a medium range safety of life and radio telegraph service for the 286 British
ships then equipped with radio equipment in addition to some foreign vessels.
1914, the station at Crookhaven was closed down and the service was transferred
to its present location on Valentia Island.
By 1920, only two marine radio
stations remained operational in Ireland, those at Malinhead and Valentia,
which have provided a continuous service to shipping to the present day.
Both stations were administered by the British Post Office up to the 1st
June, 1950, when they were handed over to the Irish Dept. of Posts and
Telegraphs, both station changing from UK callsigns (GCK/GMH) to Irish callsign
During 1956, the Dept. of Transport and Power took over the
administration of the Aviation Radio stations at Ballygireen, Shannon and
On the 1st April, 1967, Malinhead and Valentia Radio Station joined
forces with the Aviation Radio Service and became known as the Aviation
and Marine Radio Service (AMCS), initially under the Dept. of Transport
& Power and then under the Dept. of Communications, and now Dept. of
primary function of a coast radio station is safety of life at sea and
Malinhead and Valentia Radio Stations were well located to cover the Northwest
and Southwest approaches to Europe from the Atlantic. In addition to the
safety of life factor, both stations were well placed to handle W/T ship-to-shore radio traffic and provide services to trans-Atlantic shipping. Also
provided is a service to provide medical assistance from ship to shore.
records will show that Valentia Radio handled more traffic than any other UK, Radio Station during the mid 20's.
developments, such as long distance high frequency transmitters, led to
a change in this situation, as regards large volumes of radio traffic,
from that source and eventually the liners themselves gave way to trans-Atlantic
the importance of both Radio Stations in relation to safety of life, still
holds true and is highlighted on an ongoing basis by the numerous incidents
involving ships and aircraft, in any given year, at any given hour.
real purpose of the Radio Station is to monitor emergency frequencies in
the maritime bands and respond to calls for assistance from vessels getting
into difficulties or where medical problems arise. The appropriate emergency
services are then activated to deal with the problem.
atmospheric conditions prevail, radio communications between the US Coast
Guard can be heard at Valentia, even as far as the Hudson River.