'Hello Canada'... it's Princess Marconi calling from Ballybunion!

 

Marconi’s daughter Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli reprises her father’s giant step of innovation in another transatlantic broadcast on Tuesday, with her son Prince Guglielmo behind (in green tie). Photos by Domnick Walsh
Marconi’s daughter Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli reprises her father’s giant step of innovation in another transatlantic broadcast on Tuesday, with her son Prince Guglielmo behind (in green tie). Photos by Domnick Walsh

Ballybunion's heritage as one of the most important locations on the planet when it comes to the telecommunications history of humankind was celebrated in style on Tuesday as the daughter of Guglielmo Marconi reprised his famous broadcast.

'Hello Canada, hello Canada,' were the words Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli uttered to Nova Scotia at lunchtime on Tuesday.

These were the first words words ever communicated live by voice across the Atlantic, when uttered by WT Ditchem in March 1919 in his historic transmission from the Marconi Radio Station in Ballybunion to Nova Scotia.

The 89-year-old Princess had travelled all the way from Italy accompanied by son Prince Guglielmo and his wife Princess Victoria on foot of a special invitation from Ballybunion.

Their presence made the celebration inestimably more special as the resort town pulled out all the stops to mark its special heritage and welcome the VIP guests.

"We are absolutely delighted with how it went, it could not have been better and it was so special to welcome the Princess and her family to Ballybunion. They are wonderful people," organiser Pádraig Hanrahan told The Kerryman.

"We managed to contact them back in January through Jimmy Deenihan, who has known them for many years, and when the Princess heard what was being planned she insisted on travelling to Ballybunion to be present in person," Pádraig explained.

Sadly, the original wooden wireless station hasn't been around since the Civil War era, but the Irish College made for a perfect replacement as all decamped there for the repeat broadcast. It was successfully picked up at a station close to the original receiver in Nova Scotia in a communication that gave many present a thrilling sense of the history - not least the numerous amateur and professional radio operators from across the county and region gathered.

Following the broadcast, it was over to the old bandstand between the beaches where a special plaque was unveiled commemorating the extraordinary role Ballybunion played in world history; and the historic visit of the Princess and her family.

Kerryman

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