Spirit Radio, Ireland’s first US style Christian radio station began broadcasting this week.

Although the station was originally awarded a radio license by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland back in 2007 it has taken until now to broadcast.

The new station will be available in five cities: Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Cork and Galway, but the station’s backers have ambitious plans and they vow that a full national service will be on air within 18 months.

Rob Clarke, Spirit’s chief executive, told the Irish press: "Though we were awarded the license more than three years ago, fundraising was more difficult than we anticipated. Now we have raised the 300,000 euro we needed for the FM transmission network and working capital requirements. We’ll be on air 24 hours a day seven days a week."

A not-for-profit company, Spirit will be dependent on listeners' donations. Its format will be music driven.

"Christian music is the fastest growing music genre in the world," added Clark. "It sounds just like all other contemporary pop music except the lyrics deal with issues of faith. It’s a huge market in the US but it's not heard here. Until now, Ireland has been the only country in Europe without a national Christian radio station."

Spirit’s board of directors includes former Aer Lingus boss Dermot Mannion; leading solicitor Declan Moylan; Peter Coyne, former chairman of Dublin Docklands Authority; and Basil Good, owner of Isaacs Hotel Group.

Champion boxer Katie Taylor releases white doves to mark the launch of Spirit Radio