Callcards Blog

Leap into the past!

In 2011, an integrated ticketing system, known as Leap was introduced into Ireland. The “Leap Card”, a RFID enabled chargeable card allows customers to pay their fares for multiple different transport operations, as well as receiving a discount for using the service.

The Leap cards’ initial launch was for the most part a success, largely due to the fact both CIE (Dublin Bus, Iarnrod Eireann and Bus Eireann) as well as Veolia (Luas) agreed to implement the system, providing more flexibility for the commuter and transport user alike. Certain transport operations were slower to implement Leap ticketing support, however, the system was widely used and appreciated during the launch period, largely compared to the city of London’s Oyster card at the time.

Interestingly, the idea of integrated ticketing in Ireland is not new! In 1994, Telecom Eireann in conjunction with CIE (Dublin Bus), Irish Car Parks Ltd and National Toll roads together trialled an integrated ticketing system, known as The Gaudi (Generalised and Advanced Urban Innovations) Project. The Gaudi project, a European Community (now European Union) programme, aimed to improve management and the improvement of urban mobility.


The other Irish phonecards

While we may best remember Telecom Eireann and Eircom Callcard’s from our collecting days, other Irish chipped phonecards were not as well known. Leaving Prepaid Phonecards aside there were several other companies in Ireland using smartcard technology supporting different types of card phones. These different phonecards were used in various locations, including, colleges, trains, company campuses and even buses! And they were just as collectable!

This blog article will cover just some of the various other types of Irish Phonecards out there, as well as providing some additional information about the various different cards.

The University College Dublin (U.C.D) campus spreads across many acres of land in Dublin, and at one point had many cardphones installed throughout the campus. These cardphones used the Delhpic smartcard chipset. These phone booths were installed and supported by Cambridge Telephones Ltd. A number of variations exist of UCD Callcards. All UCD cards were programmed for 20 units, the exception being the UCD “Concise Callcard Catalogue” phonecard.


Collecting Callcards Nostalgia

Remember when you used to go around ransacking all the local card phones in the hope that someone left their used Callcard? The excitement felt when you found a "rare" 50 or 100 unit Callcard on the lucky days. For many people, Callcard collecting was an exciting hobby due to not knowing what you would find next. Would it be a private card, a limited release or just another Niamh from Tir Na Nog? Many collectors struck gold on some occasion, finding that all rare Rock of Cashel or that hard to find Oisin Returning from Tir Na Nog were all part and parcel with collecting Callcards.

As Callcard collecting was mainly done by youths, very few young collectors could afford the "big" 50 or 100 unit Callcards, likewise the private issues sold through the Callcard Club. This resulted in further excitement upon coming across a used Callcard left in the phonebox, particularly the higher unit values. 

15 or so years on and how times have changed. Young people today likely have no idea about Callcards or their function, or may never have even used a call box! With smartphones, the internet, computers being so accessible these days, it is unlikely for youths to be collecting anything. A sign of the times.


Prepaid Phonecards

While many Callcard collectors may have taken little to no interest in collecting prepaid phonecards, there have been many very interesting examples of Irish prepaid cards produced. Prepaid or Remote memory Phonecards were not inserted into a cardphone during use, instead they used a secret PIN Number which would be revealed on the rear of the card in conjunction with either a Freephone or low call number.

The user would dial the number printed on the back of the card and then key in their secret PIN identification number to verify their balance. They could then proceed to make a call on any supported phone, not being limited to cardphones like Callcards were.

In the early nineties many telecom companies in Ireland, large or small produced and sold these phonecards, many of whom made special editions to mark particular events, advertise various businesses similar to what Telecom Eireann and Eircom had done with their Callcards.

This blog post is going to cover some examples of interesting pre-paid phonecards, companies which produced them early on and also how remote memory technology is still very much in use today.


So after all those years, are my Callcards valuable?...

So after all those years, are my Callcards valuable?...

A question I have been asked quite a bit lately is this. Unfortunately in the majority of cases I get asked, the answer is no. Telecom Eireann (and Eircom) released different kinds of cards throughout the years, with a mix of trial, definitive, private and general release cards. In this short guide I am going to provide very broad but useful information and tables you can use to find out if the cards you have are valuable or not.

When a Limited Edition is not limited at all!

Many people have the Garth Brooks, Diana Ross,Tina Turner, Aladdin and Blink (Wonder what happened to them?) Callcards in their collection. Printed quite prominently on the front of each of these cards is “Limited Edition”. Unfortunately these particular cards are far from being a “limited edition”, but rather the term limited edition was used to signify Telecom Eireann’s partnership with EMI music to produce “band” cards, and market them as a collector’s item for the fans.

All the cards mentioned above in mint condition should be worth a few euro, but used would not be worth much if anything. Please refer to the Card List to see how many of the particular card was made.

Of course just to confuse us all Telecom Eireann did bring out a card with Limited Edition stated which was in fact limited! The 1050 Cable & Wireless card only had 10, 000 made, and is considerably rarer than the above.


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