Hydrogeological principles and approaches have been applied to the problems of agricultural drainage in Ireland in the hope that such application will contribute to the better solution of the many drainage problems in Ireland. The legal position and a short history of drainage in Ireland are given, as well as a list of the many state bodies involved in arterial and agricultural drainage. The evolution of the present Irish environment is outlined, from the end of the last ice age to the present day, with emphasis on the formation of lands in need of drainage. Natural conditions indicate that agricultural drainage was required over some 50% (34,450 km2) of Ireland; the achieved agricultural drainage extends over some 29.3% of the country. Natural conditions affecting drainage are set out under the headings of topographical, geological, hydrogeological, vegetative, and hydrochemical influences as well as man's actions with regard to drainage. The third portion of the article deals with the ways in which areas now requiring agricultural drainage have been formed. Areas of low or nil infiltration are described, with some emphasis on such occurrences as lacustrine marls, pans of various types, the effects of the Calp and the Namurian in Carboniferous strate, and conditions under which rejected recharge by overfull aquifers produces winter marshes. Then areas afflicted by high, but often diffuse, groundwater discharge are noted. And the effect of bog growth, both raised bogs and blanket bog, are outlined; drainage of bogs is a very specialized operation, mainly undertaken by Bord na Mona. Some of the harmful affects of drainage are outlined, as reduction of grazing during rare droughts, of lands suitable for waterfowl, as well as some pollution from bog drainage. Drainage does not deplete the groundwater resources of Ireland, which are abundant and little used. The article ends with some general conclusions and a list of some 13 unusual ideas which arise from the application of hydrogeological principles and approaches to problems of agricultural drainage in Ireland.