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RTÉ shares earliest radio recordings online


RTÉ shares earliest radio recordings online

Over 5,300 RTÉ radio recordings from the 1927 – 1970s now available…

RTÉ, the national Irish broadcaster has uploaded some of its earliest radio recordings from the RTÉ Archives, which are now available online for the public to enjoy.  

The collection, available at RTÉ Archives | Acetate Disc Collection (, includes over 5,300 recordings made for RTÉ Radio between 1927 (see below) and 1970s and gives a fascinating and rare insight into the voices, sounds, topics and processes involved in the creation of early radio broadcasting at RTÉ. 

Bríd Dooley, Head of RTÉ Archives:

“We are delighted to open up this hugely evocative collection from the earliest decades of broadcast recording technology. It will take audiences back to the mores, sounds and voices from 1927 onwards as the new Irish State was emerging, many decades before television itself came along. It provides a unique insight our audiences can now enjoy and will be a source of important discovery for researchers, programme makers, historians and educators alike.”

Over the last three years, RTÉ Archives has been creating digital files from thousands of fragile acetate discs which contained the original recordings. The recordings are now preserved for the long term thanks to the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, Archiving Scheme, which has now been incorporated into the recently established, Coimisiúin na Meán. 

The acetate disc is the earliest sound recording format held by RTÉ Archives. These discs were used in the production, recording and broadcast of programmes for Radio Éireann. Among the collection are full programmes and news broadcasts. There are also sound effects, inserts, performances, interviews and reports, all created for use in the production of radio programmes. 

Highlights include:  
  • Opening of the Cork radio station 6CK (1927) 
  • Maud Gonne Recalls Evictions (1947) 
  • Provincial News Round Up (1957) 
  • Sean McBride jokes about the merits of radio (Wexford Festival 1952) 
  • Christmas in Amiens Street (1949) 

Bríd Dooley, Head of RTÉ Archives:

“We are very grateful to Comisiúin na Meán for its support of the very specialist preservation and cataloguing development work involved under the Archive Funding Scheme, and to our partners at the Irish Traditional Music Archive who, together with our team of archive specialists, developed the catalogue and the online publication.  At the beginning of this project we had the labels and recordings, whereas now we have a rich and searchable resource. We will continue to enhance the collection as we learn more about these recordings.” 

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