How The Club Was Started

The Marconi Radio Group was setup in the town of Ballycastle, Co.Antrim in Northern Ireland  on 10th  April 2001 . It began with a small  number of radio amateurs, its founders being Kevin McAuley (MI0CRQ) and Paul Quinn (MI0CRR) two  local radio amateurs residing in the town . The group was formed to celebrate the early wireless  signals  made by Guglielmo Marconi  where  a historic link was made on July 6th 1898 when experimental transmissions were made between the east lighthouse on Rathlin Island and the ' White Lodge ' house situated at the harbour in Ballycastle. This link by Marconi,  pioneered developments that were taking place in wireless telegraphy. The amateur radio group  meets at Whitrpark road Ballycastle on the first Thursday of each month.

The Marconi Story

Guglielmo Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy on April 25th 1874. His father was an Italian and his mother was Annie Jameson whose family had a whisky distillery in Fairfield near Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. His work has been remembered world wide and this web page has been set up by the Rathlin Island Development and Community Association to commemorate the first over seas radio communication between Ballycastle and Rathlin transmission one hundred years on.

Marconi was inspired by a man named Heinrich Hertz who had discovered that Electro-magnetic waves existed in the air and that these waves could be radiated and detected over a space of a few metres.

Marconi worked on these principles and on 2nd June 1896 he lodged the first patent claim for "wireless technology."

In May 1898 Lloyds of London invited Marconi to install and experimental wireless link between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle. Although Marconi was unable to go to Rathlin straight away his gave the task to his assistant, George Kemp who in turn engaged the services of a graduate from Trinity College Dublin, Edward Glanville.

They started work by installing an eighty-foot high aerial at the east lighthouse on Rathlin from the top of the lighthouse and attached to the rocks below. The receiving station was to be in Ballycastle near the pier which proved unsuccessful at first. George Kemp then approached Rev. Father Conway to allow him to use the spire of St. Patrick’s church but again this was unsuccessful.

It was when George Kemp returned to the pier area in Ballycastle and erected a higher Arial (104 feet) from a house called "White Lodge" near the cliff. It was at this point that George Kemp reported having received "a few V signals" (Morse wireless signals of the letter "V" from Rathlin Island). We can take it that on that date 6th July 1898 was to be the first wireless signal contact between the two locations.

Kemp and Glanville continued their work reporting various thing such as ships passing through the sound to Lloyds.

Kemp only employed one islander a Mr John Cecil whose grandsons and daughters still live on the island today.

On the 20th and 21st July 1898 Marconi and his assistants where asked to go to Dun Laoghaire to obtain wireless reports on a sailing regatta there. Marconi accepted in the knowledge that there would be good media coverage for the event. The event was a complete success with Marconi transmitting from a tug called "The Flying Huntress" to a land station completing over 700 minutes of transmission on the yacht race.

After these events Kemp and Glanville returned to Ballycastle and continued with their experiments. On the 21st Sunday July 1898 Edward Glanville died when he fell over a 300 hundred foot cliff on Rathlin. The coffin containing his body was taken to the mainland by steamer and was meet by Glanville’s Father and Marconi. According to Kemp’s diary, Marconi arrived in Ballycastle at 6:15pm on August 29th and stayed in the Antrim Arms hotel all that evening. This was Marconi only visit to Ballycastle. He stayed four days and left for London on the 2nd September taking all the equipment with him.

Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.