End of an Era — RTÉ longwave transmitting tower demolished

End of an Era — RTÉ longwave transmitting tower demolished

The longwave radio mast at Summerhill, Co. Meath, has been felled, and with it went the final vestige of a cherished link to home for many in the Irish in Britain community


THE longwave radio transmitting mast at Summerhill, Co. Meath, has been demolished.

Constructed in 1988 for the transmission of Atlantic 252 on 252 kHz.

Atlantic 252 ceased operations on 20 December 2001, and the sports radio station TEAMtalk 252 briefly took over the frequency for a few months in 2002. The transmitter was later taken over by RTÉ Networks Limited (now 2RN). It was used for the AM version of RTÉ Radio 1 on 252 kHz from 2004 to 2023 and was the sole source of RTÉ Radio 1 on AM from March 2008 when the medium-wave Tullamore transmitter closed.

On September 24, 2014, RTÉ announced that the broadcasting of RTÉ Radio 1 on 252 kHz would cease on 27th October 2014.

But following a campaign from Irish listeners in Britain, including the Save RTÉ Radio 252 LW campaign and representations from other groups, that date was postponed. On March 31, 2023, RTÉ announced that the longwave service would be discontinued on April 14 of this year. As planned, this did happen. Finance was the main reason given for disbanding the service, with the facility reported to cost  €250,000 a year to run — although RTÉ said this could rise as high as €400,000 next year.

But campaigners have pointed out that this is a minuscule amount compared to the €345,000 (£295,000) paid to the presenter in addition to his published salary between 2017 and 2020.

Campaigners have also highlighted that RTÉ lost €2.2 million on Toy Show The Musical.

Nonetheless, despite the controversy surrounding financial matters related to the national broadcaster, which resulted in the director general Dee Forbes stepping down, the demolition of the transmitter went ahead.

A vital link with home for many people, largely older members of the community, was lost forever, according to campaigners.

The mast was felled last week on Thursday, July 27.

Peter Fawcett, PRO of the Save RTÉ Radio 252 LW, called it "an act of vandalism," and the campaign’s technical expert Enda O’Kane said: "With the detonation of the mast, RTÉ has shown its utter contempt for the Diaspora. Those responsible should resign immediately."

Margaret Golden for the campaign told The Irish Post: "As you know, I campaigned for many years with others to save LW252 for those Irish here in the UK who valued their link with home. Alas, those in RTÉ and the government did not appreciate the need for this service by the Diaspora."