SUMMERHILL COMMUNITY CELEBRATES DEMOLITION OF ATLANTIC 252,
Just two days after the demolition of the former medium-wave transmitter mast of RTÉ in Offaly, yesterday marked the end of the 248-meter-high transmission mast in Clarkstown (Summerhill), which was built in the late 1980s for the legendary Irish long-wave station, Atlantic 252. Among the local community, there was loud applause as the construction of the transmission site was highly controversial at the time.
Earlier this year, RTÉ confirmed that it would discontinue broadcasting on the longwave (252 kHz) frequency of Radio 1 on Friday, April 14th, due to the rising costs and the unsustainable nature of longwave transmission. The longwave transmitter accounted for 2.5 percent of the total energy consumption of the Irish public broadcaster. Originally, the longwave transmitter was set to be shut down on October 27, 2014, but the decision was suspended under pressure from older Irish residents living in Great Britain.
Located 3.5 kilometers east of the village of Summerhill, the 248-meter-high transmission mast of this station was twice the height of the Spire in Dublin. The construction of the Moynalvey transmitter faced strong opposition from the local community in the quiet countryside of Meath. A bitter four-year battle ensued, ultimately reaching the Irish Supreme Court.
The transmission site was originally built for the commercial radio station Atlantic 252, which broadcasted from 1989 to 2001. The initiative came from Radio Tara, a joint venture between RTÉ and Radio Luxembourg. When the proposal to build the mast and transmitter was first introduced 37 years ago, it immediately encountered furious resistance from the small local community in Meath. They raised €50,000 to challenge the permit through the courts. The battle lasted for over four years.
Hundreds of people attended meetings during that period at the Moynalvey Community Centre. Concerns were raised about health effects, the physical dangers of the structure, visual impact, interference with other communication services, and property devaluation. The mast was planned to be located just 1 km from Moynalvey Primary School.In the end, the local community lost the case when the Irish Supreme Court rejected the High Court’s decision. Local newspapers reported that the ruling “left a community shattered and dismayed.” It seemed that the ordinary citizen had no real rights against the powers of state institutions and businesses, which could afford to fight all opposition with unlimited resources.
Atlantic 252 commenced broadcasting in September 1989 and was received all over Great Britain and beyond. The signal was even picked up in Brazil during the night. On the morning of September 1st at 8:00 local time, the very first song played on Atlantic 252 was “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fears, followed by “Monkey” by George Michael. The studios were located 12 km away at Mornington House, Summerhill Road, Trim. Atlantic 252 also had sales offices and studios at 74 Newman Street in London.
Atlantic 252 ceased broadcasting on December 20, 2001. The sports radio station TEAMtalk 252 took over the frequency in 2002, but that story lasted only a few months. The transmission site was later acquired by RTÉ Networks Limited (now 2RN) for the broadcasts of RTÉ Radio 1.
Patrick O’Brien in Trinity Bugle (2023-07-29)