The National Short Wave Listeners Club is affiliated with the IRTS. We offer free, live online courses to help you study for and pass the HAREC exam in line with the Irish regulations set out by ComReg. Our next course is planned to start in the Spring of 2022.
Courses are led by volunteers who are experienced radio operators. Members can join our Sunday online socials to chat about anything related to amateur radio or licensing.
Follow the 3 steps below to get on the air!
The IRTS has been the national society for radio amateurs and experimenters in Ireland since 1932. It is a member of the IARU, the International Amateur Radio Union, who coordinate our affairs with the ITU, the International Telecommunications Union. Thanks to them, we have access to the valuable radio spectrum.
Although IRTS does not offer training, you should become an IRTS Shortwave Listener Member as soon as possible to get your SWL call sign. By joining our national society you will also support the IRTS and the IARU who will help you enjoy this hobby for many years to come.
Once you have joined IRTS and you have your SWL call sign, please send an email to us at training(at)swl.ie to register your interest in the next course.
After we chat with you to confirm your intentions you will be provided a registration link to enroll in the Zoom meetings. You will also get another link to register for the optional Sunday club socials.
When you email us, you should get an immediate automatic reply with additional information. However, if you do not hear from us the chances are your email or our reply got into a spam folder. If you cannot reach us by email, use the the IRTS list of contacts.
The IRTS has plenty of study material:
Thanks to the IARU and the internationally harmonised exam your CEPT licence will enable you to operate worldwide. While learning, start to listen using a free online receiver:
To get a CEPT Class 1 licence you need to pass the Morse test. Take that test before the HAREC exam to avoid changing your Class 2 call sign.
Why are we doing this?
Traditionally, ham radio operators would have joined a physical club to learn from more experienced members. Pandemic made that impossible even though interest in amateur radio has skyrocketed during all the lockdowns. Learning online, live, rather than watching videos, provides the very best way to get ready to pass the exam.
How many people have we helped?
In 2021 we have seen over 140 students attend our classes. About 70 of them sat their HAREC exams, of which almost 50 have passed and obtained their licences. We usually see about 50 attendees at each of our courses.
Can I watch course videos on-demand?
Sorry, no. This is an interactive class without recordings. You need to attend it live and we do not permit recording it. Our tutors and moderators can show and explain much more to you without having to consider the needs and implications of being recorded. Of course, there are many videos about amateur radio on the Internet.
I have attended the NSWLC live course but I cannot get into the Sunday meetings.
Sunday club meetings use a separate invitation. Email us at training(at)swl.ie if you would like to register. Please note that in order to maintain security, you will need to have a free Zoom account and use that account to register for the Sunday meetings, and you need to log-in to your Zoom account each time you want to attend the Sunday socials.
What are the class hours?
Our classes, as well as the Sunday socials, are scheduled from 2000 to 2200 Irish time, every Thursday. We start the meetings half an hour earlier, at 1930, to let you join and set-up in time. If you have any difficulties joining, please email us at training(at)swl.ie. If you get no reply please call or message us using the number we shared with you when you registered.
Is Amateur Radio popular?
It has never been more popular in Ireland than now! Membership of IRTS grew over 9% in 2021 and there are over 2000 current licensees in the country right now.
Do I have to learn Morse Code?
No. Morse has not been a requirement to get a licence since 2003. However, Morse proficiency will enable you to get the Irish Class 1 licence with its shorter call sign without the trailing letter "B", and additional CEPT worldwide rights. There are no other differences from Class 2 licences. More importantly, radiotelegraphy (CW) can help you make long-distance contacts without needing much power and even under difficult conditions. It has been having a resurgency recently, and it is now more popular than voice (SSB) but not as popular as the FT8 digital mode of communication. See links earlier on for sites that can help you learn Morse code. Above all, have fun with it!
Who becomes a ham?
Although traditionally it has been a somewhat male-oriented hobby, the recently licensed amateur radio operators are helping to diversify the gender balance. There are youngsters, middle lifers, and pensioners amongst us. Young teachers, older grannies, ambulance crews, teenage Morse enthusiasts, plumbers, airline pilots, electricians, stage crews, fishermen, hotel managers, dentists... This hobby has universal appeal. Is it for you? If you like the idea, then yes!
Can I join if I don't intend to get a transmitter's licence?
We welcome all Short Wave Listeners (SWLs) to become NSWLC members and to attend our Sunday socials. Please join the IRTS to get your SWL call sign.
I am a fully licensed amateur, can I join?
Our club's main focus is on the Short Wave Listeners, especially those studying for the HAREC exam. Once you get your licence we expect you to join another club if you wish to continue the social aspect of the hobby. However, we are looking for experienced tutors who are able to explain complex subjects to a varied audience of newcomers. If you are a licensed operator and you are good at teaching, and you are able to commit your time to it, or if you can help in other ways to run the classes, please get in touch. If, however, you wish to remain a member of NSWLC after you have obtained your licence, you are very welcome. Please note that membership needs to be renewed (for free!) at the end of every year, as it only lasts till the end of December.
Is it expensive?
Not at all, unless you want to spend much! You can get started online without any equipment, you can buy used or new, or you can spend a fortune if you want the glitzy stuff. Unlike in other hobbies, you can inexpensively make your own equipment. Indeed, the licence explicitly permits you to experiment with things you build, which is why you need to pass the exam to make sure you know what you are doing, while staying safe, and not interfering with other radio spectrum users. Making your own, for example an antenna, is a great way to learn and to enjoy the hobby.
How much is the course?
It is free! We are unpaid volunteers and we get no income from it. However, we recommend that you become a Shortwave Listener (SWL) Member of the IRTS in order to attend the classes. There are no membership fees for the club and no other fees. You will have to, however, pay for your exams and for the licence to the respective bodies.
When did it all start?
The National Shortwave Listeners Club was formed in March 2021. The IRTS has been operating since 1932, however amateur radio has started in Ireland even earlier. Read more about the experiments of Colonel Meade Dennis EI2B in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, in 1898, who has to be the one of the first, if not even the very first, radio amateur in the world! Ireland has a special place in the history of radio, being also the site of the original transatlantic Marconi stations. Join IRTS and continue the tradition!
I would like to know more about club rules and regulations.
Please email us at info(at)swl.ie.
Are there any more pages to browse here?
No, this is the only page :) We update it when a new course has been announced. Please have a look at the many useful resources on the IRTS site including a weekly news bulletin and a regular newsletter. Of course, there are lots more resources on the Internet.