This is the seventh conference on Irish ornithology to be held at University College Cork, since the first in 1985. All researchers working on Irish ornithology have been invited to submit a brief abstract of their current work for each conference, and the number submitted has ranged from 98 in 1985 to 159 in 1997 (Figure 1). The focus of the research topics has evolved over the years and this year there is a particular concentration of effort on waterbirds, seabirds, farmland birds, birds of prey and owls. Along with conferences held by the British Trust for Ornithology, the Irish and Northern Ireland Raptor Study Groups, and BirdWatch Ireland and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (Northern Ireland), the UCC ornithological research conferences have been an important showcase for Irish ornithology, and have led to a valuable published record of ongoing research and lasting networks and collaborations. We look forward to supporting this into the future.