Listeners choose 'O'Donnell Abú' as the identification tune signal for the Irish national station.
Over several days in February 1936, Twenty tunes were played for listeners to Radio Athlone. The purpose was to let the listeners select a suitable identification tune signal for the Irish national station. By a large majority, the tune selected was 'O'Donnell Abú'.
In all, 968 letters were received. There were 260 votes for 'O'Donnell Abú'. This was by far the highest number of votes. The second favourite tune was 'Fáinne Geal an Lae' with 151 votes. 'The Blackbird' received 88 votes, 'My Lagan Love', 58, and 'Brian Boru's March', 52.
Dr T.J. Kiernan, Director of Broadcasting, placed an order with a German firm to have the electrical device for recording the signal installed. Wavebands were crowded and electrical interference was a common problem, which meant that these "tuning signals" were very useful for finding a station at a time when Radio Athlone was on air for only part of the day.
'O'Donnell Abú' remains the station identification signal for RTÉ and can be heard each morning at 05.30 on RTÉ Radio 1, just before the daytime programmes begin.
Listen here to 'O'Donnell Abú'.