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Distributed for University College Dublin Press

Connecting a Nation

The Story of Telecommunications in Ireland

The story of Ireland’s stunning transformation from a rural nation to a global communications hub.
Like most of the world today, Ireland is abuzz with telecommunications. The country’s software industry includes nine of the world’s top ten tech firms and generates €50 billion in annual exports. Yet it was only a few decades ago that Ireland was a largely agrarian nation with a two-year waiting list to get a landline phone installed. Connecting a Nation tells the story of Ireland’s telecommunications boom—a story not just of cables and SIM cards but of the pivotal role telecommunications has played in the development of the country over the last two centuries.
Deryck Fay—a longtime telecom industry worker—shows how Irish telecommunications is intimately bound up with politics, economics, and geography, illustrating these interconnections by drawing on a range of historical personal stories. Fay brings to life the first day of work for an operator at Dublin’s new telephone exchange in 1881, the painful process of getting a phone installed in the 1970s, and the story of how an airline website created by two students ignited the digital revolution in Ireland. In providing a direct line between the past to the present, Connecting a Nation offers an insider’s perspective on how the telecommunications decisions of the past continue to shape the lives of the Irish, both individually and nationally, while pointing the way towards an ever-connected future.

350 pages | illustrated in color throughout | 7 x 9 1/4

History: British and Irish History

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations VII
Acknowledgements XI
Preface XIII
CHAPTER ONE The Information Age 1
CHAPTER TWO Kerry, communications hub of the world 24
CHAPTER THREE Miss Agnes Duggan, telephone operator and
revolutionary 50
CHAPTER FOUR The Italian and the hungry hawks 66
CHAPTER FIVE ‘Get back, son, get back, the British are in the
Telephone Exchange!’ 80
CHAPTER SIX An Roinn Puist agus Telegrafa 93
CHAPTER SEVEN Neutral and Allied 120
CHAPTER EIGHT A painful case 136
CHAPTER NINE ‘An instrument so powerful’ 167
CHAPTER TEN Where’s my bloody phone?! 190
CHAPTER ELEVEN A mobile nation 220
CHAPTER TWELVE Online and offline 249
Appendix 1: List of submarine telecommunications
cables landing in Ireland, 1852–2022 285
Glossary 296
Endnotes 299
Bibliography 333
Index 353

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