Jul 18 2011

The Wireless Museum in Howth

Published by at 11:00 pm under News

This is the same as the radio we had at home. I came across this one in the Radio Museum, housed in the Martello Tower in Howth. If you have nothing else to do it’s a great place to spend an hour or so. It’s like ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ with all the stuff that’s in it. Some of the old radios in the museum are still in perfect working order. And it certainly brings me back to those days when we didn’t have a telly in our house in Cabra West. The radio or wireless as we used to call it was all the rage. It was turned on first thing in the morning and wasn’t switched off until last thing at night. The knob on the left was to turn it on and the one on the right was to tune in the stations. The row of cream coloured buttons on the front were for selecting the wave length. In our house we only had one electric socket downstairs, on the wall near the kitchen door. There were no sockets upstairs. Everything electric was plugged into double sockets shoved into more double sockets, a disaster waiting to happen but thankfully never did.

Our wireless sat on a sideboard near the kitchen door and every bit of rubbish was placed on top of it. I remember one of my older sisters rushing home for her lunch from Williams and Woods on her bicycle just to listen to ‘The Kennedys of Castle Ross’. The Ma’ loved listening to ‘The Archers’ on the BBC radio station. Sometimes in the evenings she’d sit and listen to a play while she was doing her knitting or darning the Da’s socks. During the war years my Dad’s uncle made a crystal radio from instructions given out by the BBC Home Service. This was a crude form of radio but worked none the less. Only one person at a time could listen in to it as you had to use an ear piece. Because he didn’t have a radio licence he hacked out a hole in the wall of the tenement room and hid his radio behind it. He placed a holy picture over the hole and used the metal wire of the picture as an aerial for the radio. He’d sit there smoking a Woodbine and listen to ‘Lord Haw Haw’…’This is Germany calling…’.

Then of course in the 60s the transistor radio came into its own. I always remember when meself and the pals would cycle out to the seaside in Bray some ould fella would always have a transistor radio stuck up to his ear listening to Michael O’Hare blabbering on about some game or other in Croke Park. And then of course some of our posher neighbours had a radiogramme, probably from Sloanes and paying for it on the never-never. You could play records on it as well as listen to the radio. Every day at six o’clock the Angelus would ring out from the radio in our kitchen and the Ma’ would always say ‘Pour out the tea, your Daddy will be here soon’. And sure enough the ould Da’ would arrive home on his bicycle and soaking wet from the rain. After he had his dinner he’d sit down by the fire and listen to the radio . Then you had the music from Waltons Music Shop…’If you want to sing a song, sing an Irish song’ they’d always say and on would come Count John McCormick. I think it was every Monday night you’d get the Irish Top Ten coming on, that was my favourite. You’d have Johnny McEvoy singing about Murschin Durkin, Danny Doyle with ‘Step it out Mary’, Brendan Bowyer doing the Huckle Buck and Dickie Rock going from the Candy Store on the Corner to Matt Whelans on the Hill. Yes indeed, the ould wireless was great all-round entertainment for all ages. If people would only dump out their old tellys and dvd players and go back to listening to the radio sure wouldn’t the world be a better place all together.

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