The Caledonian geology of western Ireland records the collision of two arc complexes with the Laurentian Margin during the closure of the Iapetus Ocean. An earlier complex collided with this hitherto passive margin in the mid-Ordovician during the Grampian Orogeny. Subsequently, arc magmatism developed along the Laurentian margin and continued until the late Silurian collision between Laurentian and Avalonia. The Ordovician volcanic and sedimentary rocks comprising the South Connemara Group lie along the Southern Uplands Fault, the terrane boundary separating these two arc complexes. Palaeontological dating indicates an Arenig-Llanvirn age for part of this complex (Williams, Armstrong and Harper, 1988), making it contemporaneous with the earlier arcs. However, most authors correlate this complex with the northern belt of the Southern Uplands (Morris, 1983; Williams, D.M., 1984. The stratigraphy and sedimentology of the Ordovician Party Group, south-eastern Murrisk, Ireland. Geological Journal, 19, 173-186; Williams et al., 1988), associated with post-Grampian subduction of north directed polarity. We present new field evidence that the South Connemara Group is tectonically disrupted by bedding parallel shear zones and that contacts previously interpreted as conformable are marked by units of tectonic melange. We present structural and provenance arguments consistent with the melanges forming above a north-dipping subduction zone after 463 Ma. This Group is reinterpreted as occurring within a subduction-accretion complex that was generated by the accretion of early Ordovician mafic seamounts into a post-Grampian trench, thus reconciling the age of the Group with its generally accepted tectonic setting. We discuss the regional significance of this finding with respect to the Caledonide-Appalachian orogeny and argue that this is the site along which the Iapetus Ocean closed. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.