Soil organic C (SOC) concentrations in topsoil samples taken at 678 sites in the grassland of Ireland were investigated using statistics and geostatistics. SOC concentrations (Walkley-Black method) follow a lognormal distribution, with a median and geometric mean of 5.0%, and an arithmetic mean of 5.3%. Statistically significant (P<0.01) positive correlation between SOC and silt-plus-clay, and negative correlation between SOC and sand were observed, with lower correlation (P = 0.17) between SOC and pH. Lower SOC concentrations were associated with higher percentages of land in tillage. In order to obtain a robust measurement of spatial structure, spatial outliers were detected, and subsequently eliminated, using the local Moran's I index. The spatial distribution of SOC concentrations based on kriging interpolation showed coherent spatial patterns, with the highest values in the western coastal area, and relatively low values in the inland and southeastern coastal areas; soils at higher elevation were also found to contain higher SOC concentrations. These patterns are consistent with the distribution of rainfall within the country. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.