How to hear parish radios?
Irish communication regulator ComReg has separated 27 MHz CB-band to
two lanes: CB-hobbyband and WPAS-band (Wireless Publisc Address System)
for parish radio broadcasting, non-commercial public event
broadcasting. The same system is called CADS (Community Audio
Distribution System) for Northern Ireland, UK.
WPAS/CADS-broadcasting is allowed on 27.600 - 27.99 MHz. However, some
parishes still brodcast on 27.005 - 27.505 kHz. (Anyway, they do not
interfere anybody there because the activity on CB-radio is quite low
Some parished s use also FM-radio 87.5 - 108.0 MHz for airing Masses.
I do not know if they have license for it, but for sure there is a lot
of free frequencies on FM in the countyside of Ireland - and it is
easier for people to find these frequencies.
For tuning these church-broadcasts the local listeners can buy cheap CB-radio worth
of 30-40 € from parish office. It is pre-adjusted to the right frequency.
How is this signal skipping possible?
The reason for this phenomenon
is called F2. It is a layer in ionosphere about 300 km above
the earth. It strats to reflect radio-signals back to earth, like
mirror does to the light. Why? After every 11 years the surface of the
sun goes active, and dozens of sunspots appear. The sun starts
to burst gamma and proton waves towads the earth. Theses
interference-waves from the sun create an reflectiive ion-layer about
200-300 km (F2-layer) high above the earth. So, for about 2-4 years
period after every 11 years F2-layer refelcts signals far away. The
distance from my home in Naantali to Ireland is between 1800 km - 2200
The first chruch-signals from Ireland were observed in the world in
October 2011, when sunspot-number rised high enough. I was lucky to be the first
one in Finland to find them.
This F2-phenomenon on VHF-frequencies (27- 40 MHz), like 27 MHz
CB-band, peaks mainly at autumn around Ocotber and November. Another
peak in in spring around March. In year 2011 only several weekends
gave signals in Oct-Nov., on autumn 2012 only two weekends, but from
autumn 2013 till March 2014 the band was open very often, almost
daily. However, this F2-phenomenon will disappear almost completly
within 1-2 years after the sun has calm down after 2014.
Sunday 10am the best time
Irish parishes are very active. All bigger parishes have the Mass
almost daily, lasting about 25-30 minutes each (most of them starting
weekdays at 10am), about 40 minutes on Sundays. The main Mass is of
course on Sunday mornings starting around 10am (+/- 1 h). Some have
several Masses during Sundays. They have also evening Masses around
19pm (+/- 1h) almost daily. Among these there are funerals aired on
many days during the week, sometimes also marriages and child
christenings or some special celebration Masses.
So, on Sundays around 10am (UTC), when the condition is up, the band
is full of Mass-signals from Ireland. Many use same channels so they
interfere each other here in Finland (Of course locally there their
signal is clear).
How to identify?
It is very difficult to identify, which church you are listening,
altough sometimes you learn the sound of the priest (or mic-sound) on
some frequency. Very rarely the name of the church is given in the
beginning of a Mass or elsewhere during the Masses.
Allmost all of the talking is mass liturgy. The best way to identify
what church you are listening is to wait until the priest announces notices of local
parish events and meetings for the coming days or weeks. It can be
given around in the middle of the Mass and especially at the end.
These notices can include any news what is happening in the parish -
when and where. They give the names of the villages and naturally the
places are given with the times. There is the chance to identify the
church. Then you try to find from internet Google-search where the
given places are located. Sometimes the search goes to the parish newsletter
if it is published in the internet. Also names of the recently
deceased people and the coming funerals gives hints, like also
anniversary Masses for some several years passed parishioners. Not
easy to know how to write the names of the villages or people!!!
During the weekdays it is possible to hear the funerals starting at
anytime in the morning or afternoon, mostly in the afternoon. If you
understand whose funeral it is, it is possible to find from -
www.rip.ie or http://obituaries-ni.co.uk (for N. Ireland) the church
where the funeral Mass is coming from. However, not all funerals are
So, a lot of "detective" work is needed to find out what you are
listening. The given names of the places in Ireland are very often
impossible to understand how they are written!! Even several given
places with good signal might give no results to go further because
the places are iso small in local areas. The names of the people are easier to understand. In the beginning I had significant help
with the places and recordings from Paul Logan from Northern
Ireland. He is very experienced VHF-listener for decades.
My receiver is Perseus SDR-receiver. With that I can record the whole
27 MHz band to tune any frequency later. That gives a chance to find
new signals later, not in the real time. I live in Naantali (19 000
inhabitants) close to Turku, SW Finland.
The first signals I found with Realistic PRO-2006-scanner in year
2011. My antenna is simple 2-element CB-yagi for 27 MHz (see below).