Microplastics are widely dispersed throughout the marine environment. An understanding of the distribution and accumulation of this form of pollution is crucial for gauging environmental risk. Presented here is the first record of plastic contamination, in the 5 mm-250 mu m size range, of Irish continental shelf sediments. Sixty-two microplastics were recovered from 10 of 11 stations using box cores. 97% of recovered microplastics were found to reside shallower than 2.5 cm sediment depth, with the area of highest microplastic concentration being the water-sediment interface and top 0.5 cm of sediments (66%). Microplastics were not found deeper than 3.5 +/- 0.5 cm. These findings demonstrate that microplastic contamination is ubiquitous within superficial sediments and bottom water along the western Irish continental shelf. Results highlight that cores need to be at least 4-5 cm deep to quantify the standing stock of microplastics within marine sediments. All recovered microplastics were classified as secondary microplastics as they appear to be remnants of larger items; fibres being the principal form of microplastic pollution (85%), followed by broken fragments (15%). The range of polymer types, colours and physical forms recovered suggests a variety of sources. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms influencing microplastic transport, deposition, resuspension and subsequent interactions with biota.