The Limerick man who was the first voice of Clare radio

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Limerick broadcaster Ger Sweeney

WHEN Clare FM became one of the first local radio services to broadcast legally in Ireland 30 years ago, the first voice on the fledgeling station was that of Limerick man, Ger Sweeney.

And he gives a fascinating insight into the background to that historic event in a new book,  “Launching Clare FM – The stories of those who launched Clare‘s local radio station in 1989”.

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The book looks at the lead-up to the legalising of radio stations in Ireland, the establishment of the Independent Radio and Television Commission (IRTC) and the competition that decided who would get the licences.

The bulk of “Launching Clare FM” introduces us to the individual members of the original team and profiles each one – how they became interested in radio, how they got the Clare FM job, why they left, where they went and what they’re doing now.

Ger Sweeney says: “We were fortunate to be part of a historic moment in 1989. That moment cannot happen again and I thought that the story should be told. In telling it, I placed great importance on the stories being told by those who were there.

“We knew there would be a listenership when we launched but it did add some pressure because the expectations were high. We had to come out shooting with all barrels when the time came, and we did”

Some of the familiar names featured include former RTÉ presenters, Caimin Jones and Áine Hensey along with future national figures like Marty Morrissey, Rachael English and Alan Cantwell.

“Clare FM’s 30th anniversary is the ideal time to tell the story, before we all forget it. There are four people currently with the station who were there at the start and, of these, two have unbroken service. I’m still involved but only as occasional substitute after leaving full-time work there on three occasions. The term ‘bad penny’ has been mentioned!!”

‘Launching Clare FM’ is available in Limerick at O’Mahony’s, O’Connell Street; Eason’s in the Parkway Shopping Centre and the bookshop in the Crescent Shopping Centre.

It is also available online. Details at www.emeraldconnection.net