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Valentia Radio and an unexpected link with the past

Perhaps St Benedict and a lovely English lady helped to save Valentia Radio.

I carry a Saint Benedict medal since June 1956. Missioners from Limerick who were giving a retreat on the island then recommended “Benedicts’ Medal” as the “Sailor medal” to all on the island after a storm and a traumatic service by the local lifeboat.

Some 20 or more odd years ago I contacted Glenstal Abbey to get some history about the saint. An English lady answered me. She asked about my interest and I told her the above story.

On hearing Valentia mentioned she called out all the names of the staff of the radio station in order of seniority. I asked if she had island roots. “No”, she said.

“I worked for the Post Office in the UK. The radio staff was under control of the British Post Office until the early 1950s and I wrote their pay orders every week for many years”.

In retirement she worked in Glenstal and in her words was “as old as tar”.

Suddenly she said, “My goodness, a brochure on St Benedict is right here and I hadn’t seen it for goodness knows how long. He is obviously on your side.”

All the staff of her era, including my dad, are since gone to their reward. Perhaps she and they got St Benedict on side to look after EJK — the Morse Code identification of Valentia Wireless Station as it was known in the early years.

Dick Robinson

Ennis

Co Clare


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