Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio

Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio
Established 2003
Location Howth, Dublin, Ireland
Coordinates 53°23′16″N 6°03′49″W / 53.387668°N 6.063654°W / 53.387668; -6.063654Coordinates: 53°23′16″N 6°03′49″W / 53.387668°N 6.063654°W / 53.387668; -6.063654
Type communication history
Curator Pat Herbert
Howth Martello Tower before the establishment of the museum

Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio is a museum of communication history based in the Martello tower in Howth, Dublin.[1]

Tower history

The tower was built in 1805, one of the many towers built along the Irish coast to guard against a possible Napoleonic invasion,[2] and has long been associated with the history of radio transmission in Ireland and beyond.[3] From 1825, the tower was used by the Preventative Water Guard (now the Irish Coast Guard) in its anti-smuggling work.[1]

The tower was the terminus of the first telegraph connecting Wales to Ireland in 1852.[2] The first successful wireless radio transmission by Lee de Forest on 23 November 1903 was also conducted from this tower.[3] Guglielmo Marconi demonstrated his technology using a high aerial to communicate with a ship in 1905.[1] From 1922, the tower was used by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, then Telecom Éireann until the 1980s when it was sold to Dublin City Council.[1]


The tower was refurbished in 2001,[1] with the museum opening in 2003, and is based around the collections of curator Pat Herbert[3] who has been collecting for over 60 years.[4] The name of the museum is an homage to a remark by Taoiseach Seán Lemass, who asked an RTÉ radio controller in the 1950s "How's the hurdy gurdy?".[5]

The exhibition includes artefacts relating to all forms of communication and related Irish historical events, [2] including radios, early televisions, gramophones, and records.[3] The Morse code-based amateur radio station, EI0MAR, operates from the museum.[6] The story of curator Herbert and the museum was the subject of a 10-minute award winning film in 2014, Hurdy Gurdy Man.[4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Thompson, Sylvia (4 August 2012). "Heritage hot spots: History, nature, art, environment". The Irish Times. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radios (Industrial)". Irish Museums Association. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "The Museum of Vintage Radio in Martello Tower". Atlas of Ingenious Ireland. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. 1 2 Russell, Cliodhna (23 February 2014). "Gramophone and radio collector: 'Throwing away records is sacrilege'". The Journal. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  5. Ó Conghaile, Pól (2013). Secret Dublin: An Unusual Guide. France: JonGlez. p. 259. ISBN 2361950715.
  6. "Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio". Ask Ireland. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
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