About Irish Callcards

The Beginning

Telecom Eireann first introduced phonecards into the Republic of Ireland in the year 1988. The brand name chosen for these cards was “CallCard”. Telecom Eireann, Ireland's state-owned telecommunications company became privatized in 1999. Subsequently the name of the company was changed to Eircom.

During the beginning of Telecom Eireann's phonecard roll out, they launched three magnetic phonecard trials in different cities around Ireland. Each of these three cities also used different card systems as part of the trial. These systems were:

  • GPT (Plessey) – Dublin trial cards introduced in the year 1988
  • Autelca – Limerick trial cards introduced in the year 1988
  • Landis & Gyr – Galway trial cards introduced in the year 1989

Special promotional trial cards were further produced using the GPT and Autelca card systems, which had far fewer cards produced. The Cork FITCE convention card, which was an official overprint of the GPT test card, was issued to delegates at the FITCE conference in Cork 1988. 960 of these cards were issued. Surplus FITCE cards were briefly sold in Dublin after the conference[...]


The Chipcard Introduction

Chip cards, or smart cards shared the same form factor as credit cards and other magnetic type phonecards. This made them ideal to use for phonecards, as they were much more convenient than cash which cluttered up wallets. These cards had a microchip installed in a position on the card. Variations have been known to exist, although generally it was positioned centre-left on the card.

Invented by French engineer Roland Moreno in 1976, Telecom Eireann had seen how well the chip cards were working for France Telecom, who introduced smart phonecards in 1984[...]


Advertising, special and limited edition Callcards

As with other countries worldwide, the idea of using telephone cards to promote important events, release special limited edition cards as well as use phonecards for advertising started from 1991 onwards. Telecom Eireann saw this as a way to entice collectors with a greater variety of cards, but also make some money from advertisers interesting in promoting their products and services on a Callcard[...]


Definitive Callcard sets

Both Telecom Eireann and Eircom released definitive ranges of Callcards. These definitive cards were quite common to find, as they generally had very large print runs. There were some exceptions to this rule, particularly when is comes to the earlier and later sets, as well as some chipset variations.

As Definitive cards were typically produced and run continuously for 3-4 years, numerous varieties of these cards have been produced. Varieties include different chipsets, addresses, batch information etc. included on the card. For example the Cottage definitive Callcards have at least 60 known varieties! The Cottage card was produced between 1991 and 1994[...]


Music cards

EMI Music teamed up with Telecom Eireann to bring out a music promoting Callcard for the Irish band “Blink”. Further cards for Tina Turner, Gareth Brooks and Diana Ross were also produced[...]