Radio Experiments by Colonel Dennis EI2B

Ireland's first licensed radio experimenter

Colonel Meade Dennis, who lived near Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, became interested in radio transmission following attendance at a lecture in August 1898 in Dublin entitled "Signalling through space without wires".  Following this, Colonel Dennis made a spark transmitter and receiver, sending and receiving messages over a distance of 70 yards, making him probably the first amateur radio experimenter in the world.

His first call sign was DNX.  Following Irish independence he was issued with the call sign GW11B, becoming EI2B in 1929 when the Irish Free State began issuing EI call signs.

Colonel Dennis was one of the founder members in 1913 of the Dublin Wireless Club which, following amalgamations, became the Irish Radio Transmitters Society in 1932, with Colonel Dennis as its first president.  He died in 1945.


Fortgranite, Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, where Colonel Dennis carried out his experiments

Extracts from the papers of Colonel Dennis

The decendants of Colonel Dennis have made available for publication a scrapbook as well as correspondence and other papers relating to the Colonel's radio experiments.  We are very grateful to the family for this generous initiative.

This archive should be of interest to radio amateurs and experimenters and may also be useful to anyone researching the history of radio transmission.

For ease of access, we have divided the papers into a number of separate sections.  PDFs of this material are available, see the link to the PDF page below.

Where did the “First Ham” transmission take place?

Some publications suggest that Colonel Dennis’s 1898 transmission took place at Woolwich Arsenal in East London.  However the scanned material on this web site indicates that Fortgranite, Co. Wicklow was the location of the first transmission.

In the Marconi Demonstration section, we see that Colonel Dennis wrote “It was after attending this lecture [in Kildare Street, Dublin] that I made my spark transmitter and receiver probably the first amateur set ever made”.  The Dennis family has confirmed that the Colonel was living at Fortgranite in 1898, and only moved to Woolwich in 1901.

In 1931 Colonel Dennis sent a photograph of his “First Ham” set to RSGB, which was published along with the comment that “ … the original apparatus is still in existence at EI2B”  (T&R Bulletin, September 1931).  Also noteworthy is the fact that, among his papers in Fortgranite, there is a newspaper cutting from 1944, which the Colonel had clipped to a letter written to him by Tom Green EI9N in 1943: the cutting referred to a talk given by Tom in which he stated that the 1898 spark transmitter made by Colonel Dennis was constructed in Ireland.

It is fairly clear, therefore that the first transmission by Colonel Dennis (widely regarded as the first ever amateur radio transmission) took place in Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

See here a copy of a letter written by Colonel Dennis about his first transmission.

Scrapbook view button
Colonel Dennis’s scrapbook includes circuits, data and articles about radio experiments, culled from the literature of the day.  This collection would have been a reference source for his own experiments in radio transmission and reception.
Licensing Correspondence view button
This covers the period 1920 to 1933.  The authorisation "... to instal at Fortgranite, Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, wireless sending and receiving apparatus ..." was issued by the General Post Office in London in 1920 to Colonel Dennis.  Just two years later, he was dealing with "Árd-Oifig an Phuist", the GPO in Dublin.  The correspondence from the 1920s and 1930s highlights how experimenters at the time had to work hard to get permission to carry out their experiments.
Marconi Demonstration view button
Some correspondence and a newspaper report relating to the wireless demonstration given by Marconi in Dublin in 1898 (as part of the lecture on "Signalling through space without wires") which inspired Colonel Dennis to carry out his own experiments.
Correspondence 1914 – 1924 view button
Correspondence 1925 – 1931 view button
Correspondence 1932 – 1934 view button
These pages include orders for various pieces of radio equipment, with queries and comments about their operation.
Crystal Oscillator Calibration view button
Colonel Dennis manufactured his own crystals and sent them to The National Physical Laboratory in Middlesex for frequency measurement.  The measurement reports and correspondence are of historical interest.
Brochures & Catalogues view button
These represent a useful record of some of the commercial equipment on the market in the early days of radio.
Articles & Dissertations view button
Papers relevant to early radio experiments, from Colonel Dennis's collection.
Miscellaneous view button
Documents of general interest, including correspondence between IRTS and Major General Dennis (son of Colonel Dennis) in 1946, the year following the Colonel's death.
PDF Download Page for all the material presented here view button
Use these files for offline viewing or printing; the typed and printed text within the PDFs is searchable.  Note that some of the files are very large!
QSL Cards view button
From the early days of amateur radio experimentation, radio amateurs have valued written confirmation of successful two-way radio communication.  Samples of cards sent by Colonel Dennis in the 1930s are of interest.
contact IRTS