Valentia Radio became operational in 1914, taking over service from the station previously located at Crookhaven. was closed down and the service was transferred to its present location on Valentia Island. Since then Valentia Radio - callsign EJK - and her sister station at Malinhead have provided a continuous service to shipping to the present day.
The primary function of a coast radio station is safety of life at sea with Valentia Radio being well located to cover the Southwest approaches to Europe from the Atlantic. Also provided is a service to provide medical assistance from ship to shore. In addition to the safety of life factor, both stations were well placed to handle W/T ship-to- shore radio traffic and provide services to trans-Atlantic shipping.
The records will show that Valentia Radio handled more traffic than any other UK Radio Station during the mid 20's. This was during the days of the big trans-Atlantic liners, when Radio signals were limited to a range of a few hundred miles.
Valentia Radio was the last radio station in Ireland to use Morse code, this old and trusted method of communication being an international and reliable means of long distance communications. During the second world war Valentia received a faint message from a civilian liner way out in the Atlantic. Even though the message was very faint Valentia co-ordinated the rescue operation and a great many lives were saved. With the full implementation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) in 1999 the Morse service from EJK closed, the station joining with others from Europe and Canada in a final farewell to this manual, but very effective, mode of communications.
The commercial side of Valentia Radio's activities took on a new lease of life, with the introduction of link call facilities during 1972. Again Valentia Radio found itself in the ideal location in respect of one of the main European fishing grounds being situated off the west coast of Ireland. Within a relatively short space of time, the Spanish fishing fleet, whose traditional fishing grounds are on the Porcupine Banks and along the Atlantic Shelf became aware of this new service and despite language problems a number of radiotelephone links calls were successfully operated to Spain. When it became known that there was potentially a very substantial traffic source available within the area under our control, the staff very quickly took it upon themselves to acquire a sufficient knowledge of the Spanish language to enable them to provide service, and this has developed over the years to a stage where it now forms a very large part of the day to day operations. In addition to the commercial aspect Valentia Radio are also frequently involved with Spanish vessels in such matters as medical assistance and advice, not to mention casualty operations, whenever they get into difficulties.
A further bonus, traffic wise, emerged from the EC regulations concerning fishing in territorial waters, when the Spanish fleet were obliged to report movements and catches via EC Radio Stations when in EC waters. This still applies.
The real purpose of the Radio Station has always been to monitor emergency frequencies in the maritime bands and respond to calls for assistance from vessels getting into difficulties or where medical problems arise. The appropriate emergency services are then activated to deal with the problem. Today, Valentia Radio and it's sister stations at Malinhead and Dublin are THE primary safety link for maritime related casualty incidents around the Irish coast and into the Atlantic.