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 today).
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 km..

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 published there.

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-equipment
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).

 

(c) HKU, 2014