Curves for Holocene lake levels and salinity changes are presented for An Loch Mor, a small oligohaline lake on the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland, based on palaeoecological investigations of a 12 m long, lake-sediment core. New insights are also provided into Holocene sea-level change in the Galway Bay region. Particular emphasis has been placed on the ostracod fauna, both past and present. Salinity and lake-level changes were reconstructed from the fossil ostracod assemblages, based on the known tolerances of individual species and on the assemblages as a whole. Additional evidence was provided by other proxies including strontium-isotope ratios derived from ostracod shells and other carbonates, plant macrofossil and pollen analyses, and sedimentological changes. The early Holocene (pre-Boreal, i.e. 11.5-10 ka) was characterised by low lake levels and slightly elevated salinity values, probably the result of high evapotranspiration and low precipitation rather than elevated sea levels. Early Holocene plant and animal migration to the island does not seem to have been impeded but relative sea levels were not necessarily so low (below -40 m a.s.l.) that landbridges were present to the mainland. Between ca 10 and 8.5 ka, relatively high lake levels prevailed. At 8.3 and 7.5 ka, minor fluctuations (lowering) of the lake level occurred that are assumed to relate to early Holocene abrupt events. Beginning at 7.05 ka, lake levels declined sharply. A general trend towards rising lake levels started at ca 6.4 ka and accelerated at ca 5.6 ka as runoff increased as a result of Neolithic clearances. At ca 4.8 ka, lake levels began to rise once again, probably in response to changes in rainfall and/or evapotranspiration and runoff. Lower lake levels during the first half of the 1st millennium AD were probably a response to decreased runoff as a result of a drier climate coupled with regeneration of woody vegetation. The sharpest rise in both lake levels and salinity began during the ninth century AD, which is attributed to a rapid rise in relative sea level. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.