What telephone number should you call in an emergency when traveling in Ireland? Thankfully the answer is short and easy to remember in real emergencies. When you need an emergency phone in Ireland the most important one is 112 or 999, which can be called toll-free from all landlines or cell phones. 112 and 999 will both connect you to the emergency services no matter if you are in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.
Find out more emergency numbers and services in Ireland:
Main Emergency Services
For access to the most-needed emergency services in the Republic and Northern Ireland, one number will connect you to all of them by sending the call to a centralized communication room. When calling 112 or 999, you will be asked for your location, and for the service you need (ambulance, police, etc). Listen to the operator and stay calm. The first person will likely need only the most critical information and then pass the call to a specialized service where you can then explain the entire situation.
One note on mobile phones or cell phones: there are still a number of areas in Ireland where mobile phone coverage, in general, is patchy or depends on the network used. The latter problem will be automatically overcome by your phone - as soon as you dial 112 or 999 you will be connected to the strongest network in the area. Be aware, however, that there may be almost no coverage in some remote areas. If you are planning to spend time in the wilderness or deep in the countryside (as is often the case for hillwalkers and mountaineers), you should give notice of your plans to your hotel or another point of contact.
Without further ado, here is a summary of the main emergency services in Ireland:
- Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the Gardai (Republic of Ireland) or the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). Response times vary widely between rural and urban areas, in general, they are better in Northern Ireland. The actual response may very much depend on the nature of the emergency - if you want to report loss or theft of an item, you will more than likely be asked to come to the nearest police or garda station to fill in a form, rather than the police being sent out to you.
- Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance
- Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the ambulance service. Take note that this is for life-threatening emergencies (through accident or sudden illness) only. If you are sick in Ireland and need to see a General Practitioner (family doctor) then you should first ask the hotel front desk about the nearest medical office. You may also visit an A&E (accident and emergency) department in a local hospital, but this will always incur a hefty charge and, more than likely, long waiting hours. In phone books you will also find the numbers for local ambulance services, either private companies or voluntary units - these should not be confused with the regular emergency medical services.
- Fire and Rescue Services
- Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the fire service. They will provide firefighting and technical rescue if needed. Note that roadside assistance for stranded cars (also often referred to as "rescue") is not part of their portfolio.
- Marine and Coastal Emergencies
- Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the Coast Guard. The Garda Costa na hEireann (Irish Coast Guard, RoI) or the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (NI) will coordinate the response by cliff rescue teams, inshore rescue units, lifeboats and SAR helicopters if necessary. Distress calls may also be made by marine radio or flares, but this is within the domain of qualified skippers only.
- Mountain Rescue or Cave Rescue
- Dial 112 or 999 and ask the operator to put you through to the mountain rescue service.
You should be aware that all these services will respond without a charge to genuine emergencies, though you may later be asked to provide insurance details to recover some of the costs. Also be aware that there are fines in place for malicious, false and time-wasting call-outs, but as long as you are acting in good faith you should not be penalized.
Other Emergency and Helpline Phone Numbers
There are some additional services of note in the Republic of Ireland:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (Dublin) - 01-4538998
- AWARE Depression Support - 01-6766166
- Irish Tourist Assistance Service - 01-4785295
- Rape Crisis Centre - 1800-778888 or 1800-212122
- Samaritans - 1850-609090
Important Embassies in the Republic of Ireland
- British Embassy - 01-2053700
- Canadian Embassy - 01-4174100
- United States Embassy - 01-6688777