The Oxford Companion to Irish History

By S. J. Connolly | Go to book overview

R

Radcliffe, Thomas, see SUSSEX, THOMAS RADCLIFFE, EARL OF.

radio. Broadcasting in independent Ireland began with the Dublin Broadcasting Station, generally referred to by its call sign 2RN, which began transmitting on 1 January 1926. A second station in Cork, broadcasting some local programmes along with relays of 2RN, opened in 1927 but closed again in 1930. From 6 February 1933 2RN was superseded by Radio Athlone, whose highpowered broadcasts reached a wider geographical area. From 1937 the station was generally known as Radio Éireann, although this did not become a legal entity until the Broadcasting Act of 1960 created the Radio Éireann authority.

Widespread evasion makes the number of radio licences an inadequate guide to audience size. However, drives against unlicensed sets pushed licence numbers up from 100,000 in 1937 to 139,000 in 1938, and from 187,000 in 1947 to 261,000 in 1948. In 1961, the last year before the advent of *television, 502,000 licences were issued. In Northern Ireland, transmissions by the British Broadcasting Corporation began in 1924, and the opening of a new transmitter at Lisnagarvey near Lisburn, Co. Antrim, in 1936 permitted reception beyond the 50-mile radius round Belfast. By 1939 124,000 licences had been issued, suggesting that perhaps half of all Northern Ireland families had a radio, compared to around one in four in the Irish Free State.

As a body under state control, 2RN and its successors played an important part in the dissemination of an official culture, notably through Irish language broadcasts, and through programmes devoted to traditional music and Gaelic games. In Northern Ireland, by contrast, efforts to promote a distinctive local culture were inhibited by intense political and public hostility to anything suggestive of an 'Irish' identity.

railway transport began in Ireland with the opening of the Dublin and *Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) railway on 17 December 1834. This first line provided a link between the capital and the ferry to Holyhead, which in turn was connected to London by road. Its contractor, William *Dargan, became the 'Father of the Irish Railways'. He was involved in the financing and building of most lines up to his death in 1867. Although the Dublin and Kingstown line was a success, investors were slow to put their money into railways, because there was not the same need for cheap, efficient transport as in industrial Britain. In the industrial north-east, however, manufacturers set up the Ulster Railway Company, which launched the second Irish line, Belfast-Lisburn-Portadown, in 1842, and the pace of railway building greatly increased thereafter. During the 1840s, Ireland experienced something of the railway mania then sweeping Britain. From a figure of just over 31 miles in 1842, lines already open or under construction totalled 700 miles in 1850. Investment from 1831 to 1852 amounted to £12.5 million. Government loans were made available under both * Peel and his *Whig successor Lord John Russell.

Although never carrying the huge volume of traffic of British railways, Irish companies flourished because of the comparatively low cost of land and labour. The lines out of Dublin and Belfast were lengthened. Drogheda was reached in 1844. Armagh came on line with the Ulster railway in 1848. By 1850 Belfast was connected to Holywood, Comber, Newtownards, Carrickfergus, and Ballymena. A line from Derry, down the Foyle valley, opened up west Ulster. The Great Southern and Western Dublin-Cork rail link opened in 1849. Cork was also linked to Bandon. The Dublin-Galway line opened in 1851. The Dublin-Belfast link was completed with the building of the Boyne viaduct, at Drogheda, in 1855. There were also many local narrow gauge railways.

By the 1850s most of Ireland's railway network was thus in place. The ramifications for the economy and society were unprecedented. Bridges,

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The Oxford Companion to Irish History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Advisers ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Maps vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Contributors xiii
  • Note to the Reader xvii
  • A 1
  • B 33
  • C 66
  • D 133
  • E 167
  • F 183
  • G 212
  • H 233
  • I 254
  • K 282
  • L 292
  • M 333
  • N 377
  • O 397
  • P 424
  • Q 469
  • R 471
  • S 495
  • T 532
  • U 557
  • V 577
  • W 582
  • Y 601
  • Z 603
  • Maps 605
  • Subject Index 613
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