- 02 Sep 21
The DJ Also Known As Robbie Dale helped to revolutionise Irish radio
Hot Press is deeply saddened by the news that legendary radio man Robbie Robinson, AKA the Admiral Robbie Dale, has passed away in Lanzarote aged 81 after living with dementia.
During the '60s, The Admiral – who was given his nickname by fellow boat that rocked DJ Dave Lee Travis – became one of the senior DJs on Ronan O'Rahilly's Radio Caroline South in the English Channel. With 14 million people tuning in daily, he became a household name who hobnobbed with the likes of the Rolling Stones and The Beatles.
When the British Government tried to sink the offshore pirates by introducing the 1967 Marine Offences Act, Dale was among the presenters who decided to stick it out in the North Sea despite the risk of heavy fines and imprisonment.
After Caroline was forcibly towed into port by a shipping supply company it owed money to, Robbie transferred to a Dutch pirate station, Radio Veronica, before returning to terra firma in London and setting up a contract cleaning business.
While it proved highly successful, his passion for radio brought him in 1980 to Dublin where he launched the first 'superpirate', Sunshine 539, from a portacabin behind the Sands Hotel in Portmarnock.
Much to the annoyance of existing pirates like Radio Dublin who mounted a commando raid to cut down their mast, Sunshine quickly became the capital's most listened to independent station. As part of his team he hired Chris Cary, another Caroline old boy who eventually left to launch Radio Nova. Between them they wrote the rule-book for commercial radio in Ireland, which is still followed today.
Brilliant at spotting new talent, Robbie gave early breaks to the likes of Gareth O'Callaghan, Declan Meehan, Aidan Cooney, Pat Courtenay, David Dennehy, Tony Fenton and lots more.
When the Irish pirates were outlawed in 1988, he headed to Lanzarote where he went into the holiday apartments business.
Here are just some of the tributes that have been paid to one of the great radio pioneers:
Farewell and R.I.P. to my lifelong friend and ‘Defy The Government’ buddy the Admiral Robbie Dale. We shared so many wonderful adventures together and on 14th August 1967 were the only 2 dj’s left to keep Radio Caroline on the air. Good Bless you Robbie. https://t.co/X2cEGHIY7H
— Johnnie Walker (@piratejw) September 2, 2021
I’m really saddened to hear of the passing of a true radio legend ‘Admiral’ Robbie Dale This man transformed Irish Radio in the 80s with Sunshine Radio. As I said in a recent podcast If there was one person in radio I would have wanted to work for and learn from it was Robbie pic.twitter.com/rN8btpGZCY
— David Baker (@davidbakerdj) September 1, 2021
Another pirate legend leaves us. More than 20 million of us listened on August 14, 1967 as Robbie Dale defied the law alongside @piratejw aboard Radio Caroline South after the passing of the Marine Offences Act. All You Need Is Love. We Shall Overcome. RIP The Admiral pic.twitter.com/25n5CZjPzY
— Paul Rowley (@PaulRowleyRadio) September 1, 2021
R.I.P Mr Robinson Coo Coo Cochu Hot hits Sunshine 101…A legend in pirate radio who brought entertainment to the masses in Dublin during the eighties. pic.twitter.com/etqFDGoDLV
— Mick Duffy.🇪🇺🇮🇪 (@MickDuffy5) September 1, 2021
Radio Caroline pirate Robbie Dale dies at the age of 81. The Admiral was known for broadcasting on @TheRadCaroline and staying on-air when the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act came into effect in 1967. More: https://t.co/IthgBpviLp pic.twitter.com/MvrSmLUusg
— Real Radio Caroline (@TheRadCaroline) September 2, 2021
Another legend Robbie Robinson founder of Sunshine Radio in 1980 has passed, Robbie Dale to his @MVRossRevenge family. He was ignored by the Irish broadcasting establishment, shafted by the Irish Government and a legacy that will be hard to emulate. #RIPRobbieRobinson
— The Irish Pirate Radio Archive 🇮🇪 📻 (@IBHallofFame) September 1, 2021