SHANNON’S Simon Kenny is chairperson of the Limerick Radio Club, which will be broadcasting for a period of 48 consecutive hours from Loop Head Lighthouse this weekend.
A native of Kerry, he has been in Shannon since the mid-’70s and worked for the Irish Aviation Authority prior to his retirement.
The Limerick Radio Club was founded in 1946, he told The Clare Champion. “It caters for people from all walks of life. Originally, it was guys playing around with radio frequency-type components and making their own transmitters. That would have been the very early days of radio transmission. The thing was to foster in people self-reliance and being able to do things themselves. In fact, amateurs played a very big part in opening up what are now known as the HF bands, the high-frequency bands.”
He said ham radio operators could play an important role following disasters in the developing world. “They play a fairly big part in a lot of cases and have been the only people able to communicate from disaster areas, the likes of Haiti and when there have been earthquakes and communications were knocked out.”
Operators from around the world get in contact with each other, he added, and their common interest is usually the main topic of conversation. “Things you don’t talk about are religion and politics,” he joked.
The club meets once a month at LIT and hold talks and lectures as well as running courses for people who want to achieve a ham radio licence.
On August 18-19 the club will broadcast non-stop for 48 hours from Loop Head Lighthouse as part of the 15th International Lighthouse/lightship Weekend (ILLW). During the broadcast, visitors to the lighthouse will be able to listen in to communications with some of the other participating ham radio operators broadcasting from 400 other lighthouses and lightships in 50 countries.
“We hope to open long-distance communications with regions in Asia, through Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. A special QSL card (confirmation of communication) has been designed to mark the event,” said Simon. “The club will operate two stations, one of which will be at the entrance to the lighthouse, so members of the public can listen to some of the transmissions. Our website is www.limerickradioclub.ie.”
Ger Dollard, director of services with Clare County Council said, “We wish the members of Limerick Radio Club the very best of luck over the weekend. Their participation in this initiative helps to raise public awareness of Loop Head Lighthouse and other similar facilities across the world while at the same time helps to promote amateur radio and to foster international goodwill.”
The lighthouse has reopened to the public this summer following a successful trial scheme in 2011 that resulted in an estimated 17,000 people visiting the landmark building.