Keeping in contact with your friends and family back home while you are on the road will not be that difficult in Ireland. If you have your own laptop, many hotels, B&Bs, and guesthouses have WIFI available. Some provide a computer for guests to use. Otherwise, the options of snail mail, mobile Internet, and telephoning home are options.
Calling Ireland and Back Home
In order to access an international line (or to dial out of country) on most landline phones in the United States, you will have to first dial 011. Following, you will have to enter the code of the nation you wish to call. Ireland's country code is 353. Next, you will have to enter the region code and phone number, dropping the first “0” of the establishment you wish to reach. As an example, follow this scenario:
You wish to call the Aran Islands to reserve a room at a B&B.
The phone number listed on the website is +353 (0)99 555 5555.
Dial 011 followed by the country code, 353.
Next, drop the first “0” and enter the region code of the Aran Islands, which is 99.
Enter the phone number: 555 5555.
The entire number would be dialed as: 011 353 99 555 5555.
Once you are in Ireland, you will not have to enter 011 or the country code. If you are dialing within country, the phone number would be entered as simply 099 555 5555, which is how numbers are written in this guide.
In order to call Northern Ireland from the United States, you will have to follow the same steps above, except you would use the United Kingdom's country code +44 (44).
To call Northern Ireland from the Republic, replace the 028 (everywhere in the UK region of Ireland has this prefix) with 048.
Once you are in Northern Ireland, simply dial the phone number without a regional prefix (i.e., drop the 028 and dial the number).
To call the United States from Ireland, you will have to dial the country code to the United States (+1, or 001), plus the area code and phone number (i.e., 001 212 555 5555).
The way of the future is to make calls over the Internet (using a VoIP service). The most popular programs are Skype and Google Talk. Yahoo! Voice is a similar service in conjunction with Jajah. These services allow you to make inexpensive calls anywhere in the world, have voice mail, and a local U.S. (or other) phone number that rings over your computer or phone no matter where you are in the world. Certain companies are releasing mobile phones with this software preinstalled.
Besides VoIP services, the best alternative if you are going to be in Ireland for ten days or more would be to purchase a mobile phone upon your arrival, which will come with some pre-paid credit. Phones in Europe use a GSM 900/1800 system that is not compatible with all U.S. phones. Call your provider to see if your phone will function on the European wavelength or if it will work with a SIM card. If your company indicates your phone cannot be “unlocked,” various shops in Dublin can manipulate it for a reasonable fee.
Alternatively, your provider might be able to open your phone to “roaming,” although this is an expensive option. Renting a phone in the United States and bringing it along with you is possible on a number of websites.
Having a local phone number will allow you to more easily call hotels to verify reservations, secure seats at restaurants and shows, or in the unlikely event you have an emergency. The phone will work across Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia. In Ireland, Vodaphone has the best coverage, followed by O2, and 3 (pronounced tree).
Another option to consider while in the country is to buy phone cards that can be used with public phones. These can be purchased in tourist offices or newspaper shops around the country. Acquire an international phone card if possible, which is good for in-country calls and those to other countries. Not all cards are the same, so ask which has the best rate to the country of choice.
Ireland has entered the age of the mobile Internet where connecting on the go has never been easier. With a small USB toggle, Vodaphone offers the best coverage, but they require a two-year minimum contract. The company called 3 offers mobile, prepaid Internet at a great price with good customer service. Plus, your coverage extends into Northern Ireland. Only in removed locations in the west and northwest of the country will you have no connectivity, although that might change as coverage is expanded. Most companies' software is compatible with Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux.