Digital is the word, in Ireland as elsewhere - but digital media need power, and where can you recharge those pesky batteries your laptop, smartphone, tablet or even small mp3-player insists on draining like Dracula his latest victim? Travel has certainly changed during the last years - definitely gone are the days of the bulky steamer trunk, the steam engine, the hand-written letter home. But the modern age brought a new phenomenon. The "digital traveller", as I like to call him or her, equipped with a digital still or video camera, mobile phone, tablet or laptop, GPS and lots more.
What do all these (very useful) gadgets have in common? They need batteries and/or recharging, hence they need plugs, and accessible power outlets.
Here's some essential information you will need:
A word of warning - sockets all over Ireland will supply roughly 230 Volts, double that of the US supply! If you do not change the settings on your chargers or power supplies this will fry any US machine into oblivion.
The good news? Almost all modern chargers are geared to run on voltages from 100 to 240 V ... but make sure they do before you plug them in.
Sockets and Plugs
Both the Republic and Northern Ireland use so-called "Commonwealth" connections with three very solid connectors. These are totally incompatible with US systems. You will need an adaptor to connect your electric gear. Get an un-fused adaptor if possible.
There are workarounds you may read or hear about now and then, these are generally not safe and may impair the enjoyment of your vacation (or, indeed, the rest of your life).
If you are bringing several items likely to need energy at the same time, bring a multiple connector from home - plug this into the adaptor and you're ready to go.
Having many adaptors is also an idea ... until you find out that the room you are in only has one power outlet.
It might be a good idea to bring a power supply or charger that feeds off the 12 Volts car system. Some hotels and B&Bs in Ireland have developed the nasty habit of hiding or disabling sockets to discourage guests from using too much energy.
If you use a converter to boost the car's 12 volts to charge a laptop ... please make sure that you do not drain the car battery. Better do it while the engine is running.
Should you inadvertently need to buy batteries, you will find AA and AAA size in almost every store, at a very high price. Depending on your needs a quick visit to an electrical goods store or an Argos outlet might pay off by purchasing a multi-pack or even rechargeable cells with a local charger. Also look into buying batteries at cheap stores like Dealz or B&M - often the best bet.
The best advice is "Think ahead and bring more!" Digital storage media are expensive at best, ridiculously overpriced in most Irish shops. Most common types are available, though.
Burning CDs or DVDs
A number of Internet cafés and some photo outlets let you burn CDs or DVDs from your own storage media. This will more than likely only be available in the larger cities. Not all memory cards are necessarily accepted! And remember to test your CD/DVD before re-formatting the storage card!
You will be best advised to use this through an Internet café or a secure WiFi connection - through the phone network it might become very expensive.
Check your phone for compatibility before you travel – not all phones will log onto Irish networks! If you get stuck, or if you want to avoid roaming charges, you can also buy a "burner" (pay-as-you-go phone without a contract) in Ireland. These will be SIM-locked for the network, but your friendly neighbourhood phone shop may well disable the lock later. The widest range of phones available can be found in the stores of Three, Vodafone, and Meteor. Tesco Mobile may also be of interest.
For more information on electricity in Ireland, please follow this link: Power Outlets and Adaptors in Ireland.