Radio Caroline’s founder, Ronan O'Rahilly, was the rebellious son of a wealthy Irish businessman. His father, Aodhogan O'Rahilly had operated, amongst other ventures, the Preston-
Ronan himself had come to London in the late 1950s and joined an acting school-
Ronan O'Rahilly was working, without much success, to try and promote one of his artists, Georgie Fame, on the established radio stations -
Having explored and rejected for various reasons the possibility of hiring the transmitters of a foreign based broadcaster to launch his own radio station the idea of offshore radio appealed to him as a possible solution. Ronan O'Rahilly was aware of the concept of offshore radio stations -
Allan Crawford (then planning Radio Atlanta) knew O'Rahilly through a group of mutual acquaintances and the offshore radio station idea was discussed by the two men. At that point O'Rahilly himself could not provide financial backing for Crawford, but took him to Ireland where he introduced him to his father and showed him the port of Greenore. During the course of this meeting with O'Rahilly's father Crawford made available the results of research he had carried out for Project Atlanta into the feasibility of operating an offshore radio project off the British coast.
Ronan O'Rahilly led Crawford to believe that both of them could co-
Project Atlanta had commissioned technical research documents and marketing profiles which showed the expected reception area and anticipated audience levels for a radio station anchored off the Essex coast. Armed with a copy of these documents O'Rahilly approached likely backers, conveying the impression that the research had been carried out for his own station.
Eventually he managed to raise capital from English, Irish and Swiss sources to get the project started, using a holding company, Planet Productions Ltd. One backer was Jocelyn Stevens then owner of the influential glossy magazine Queen, whose offices in London's Fetter Lane were used as a temporary headquarters by Planet Productions Ltd. while the radio station project was launched.
Once sufficient funding had been arranged Ronan O'Rahilly engaged shipbrokers to find a suitable ship on which he could house the new radio station. Eventually, in Rotterdam they discovered a suitable vessel, an ex-
Planet Productions leased the vessel from a Swiss registered company -
Although the port's workforce kept silent about the nature of the ship's conversion it was not long before the town's residents noticed the huge aerial mast growing to its 165' height and the local newspaper sent a reporter down to Greenore to investigate the mystery ship.
With natural Irish charm the O'Rahilly family circulated a story that the ship was a marine research vessel and needed the tall mast to help it search for deep sea sponges! Satisfied that he had obtained an explanation for the unusual work being carried out on the ship the reporter left Greenore and his paper printed the story.
So convincingly was this cover story put across that there was little further speculation about the true nature of the activity surrounding Caroline or of her future role. The later arrival of Allan Crawford's Mi Amigo to have a similar tall mast installed consequently raised few enquiries from local residents or the media, although once Radio Caroline had actually come on the air interest in the Mi Amigo at Greenore became more intense.
MV Caroline being fitted out in Greenore
The Fredericia in her days as a Danish passenger ferry
Click on picture to enlarge
Ship and Location