Limerick’s last phoneboxes ring out one final time

Richard McEllistrem, using the Eircom Telephone Box, Adare. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

IT WILL be the end of an era in Limerick when the last two iconic payphone kiosks in the county will be taken away.

Once the only means of touching base with anyone while on the go, the kiosks were a lifeline in an era when few people even had a telephone in the house, let alone a mobile one.

Now, the last remaining boxes in Limerick still wired for their original function, a twin set in the county village of Adare, will be making their last calls.

Others, including beautiful original wooden and glass structures, have been converted in some towns for community use such as housing life-saving defibrillator equipment.

Limerick’s last standing phone boxes in Adare. Photo: Brendan Gleeson

Answering the call of the future, telecommunications company Eir has said that more than 200 payphones countrywide have been converted to electric vehicle charging stations or digital kiosks.

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Almost 100 years after they first appeared on Irish streets, the last remaining payphone boxes across Ireland will now be removed over the coming months.

As a tribute to the end of the analog era, Eir has restored a 100-year-old ‘K1’ kiosk, the first type of payphone box introduced in Ireland, for public exhibition later this year.

The kiosk is one of only seven known examples in Ireland or the UK and will be donated to preserve a part of Irish heritage.

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) for the Provision of Public Payphones was removed in 2020 due to steady decline in usage.

At their peak, approximately 3,300 payphone boxes dotted the Irish landscape, complemented by over 5,000 indoor payphones in pubs and shops.

Since the removal of the USO, Eir has implemented programmes to repurpose this legacy infrastructure and retain the space for community service where possible.

Six of the iconic concrete Posts & Telegraphs (P&T) kiosks now house life-saving defibrillators.

Adding to the community-centric approach, two towns have creatively adapted newer aluminium kiosks into tourist pods, offering leaflets and information about local places of interest. One has even been transformed into a ‘hotline to God’ religious shrine.

142 nationwide will be transformed into electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

60 payphones have already been transformed into digital kiosks and and information systems for local authority services, including mapping systems for visitors and locals.

Of the 105 remaining kiosks, 11 will become digital pedestals, while the other 94 are set to be removed by the end of the year.