Irish Examiner View: A legend of pop music industry - The late Ronan O’Rahilly

What Irish individual has had the greatest influence on popular music in Britain and Ireland over the past 50 years?
Irish Examiner View: A legend of pop music industry - The late Ronan O’Rahilly
The waves that O’Rahilly started took longer to reach our shores but finally landed in 1979 with the creation of RTÉ Radio 2, marking a sea change in the broadcast of pop music here.

What Irish individual has had the greatest influence on popular music in Britain and Ireland over the past 50 years?

Bob Geldof? No, but close. Bono? More rock than pop. Dana? Hardly. Daniel O’Donnell? Unlikely.

The answer is Ronan O’Rahilly, a name that is probably not familiar to many of his fellow countrymen and women.

It was he who founded the notorious/famous Radio Caroline that popularised pop music on British radio initially, later influencing the biggest change in direction for RTÉ since it first came on air.

He died this week, aged 79, leaving a unique legacy in the music industry.

Part of the swinging London scene of the 1960s, O’Rahilly circumvented radio licencing laws by acquiring a former Danish passenger ferry, anchoring it in the North Sea off Felixstowe, and broadcasting from there.

The result: Millions of youngsters in Britain and Ireland, and further afield, tuned in. Radio Caroline and the ship on which it was based made waves in more ways than one.

In the UK, the BBC went from broadcasting two miserly hours of pop music a week to the creation of Radio 1 in 1967.

The waves that O’Rahilly started took longer to reach our shores but finally landed in 1979 with the creation of RTÉ Radio 2, marking a sea change in the broadcast of pop music here.

We salute a legend of the pop music industry.

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