A sample of 124 deserted/infertile dipper (Cinclus cinclus) eggs was collected in south-west Ireland during six seasons (1990-1994 and 1999) and analysed for mercury and organochlorines. Mercury was detected in three of the 6 years but no trend was observed. DDT occurred above the limit of detection in only two eggs, one each in 1993 and 1994. In contrast, two derivatives of DDT (DDE and TDE) were found much more commonly. DDE occurred in over 87% of eggs, while TDE contamination was less widespread and reached a maximum of 60% in 1993, with none detected in 1991 or 1999. There was no trend in occurrence of DDE or TDE across years. PCB contamination was present consistently over the 10-year period, with little change in the proportion of contaminated eggs collected over time. In all years, the lowest recorded occurrence of total PCBs was 69% expressed on a formulation basis as Arochlor 1254. PCB congeners 138, 153 and 180 dominated. The congener pattern was similar across years with the exception of 1990 when congener 118 dominated. A distinct trend of high values of contaminants was observed in 1990 and 1993. In 1990, PCB 118 was the dominant contaminant, while in 1993, HEOD, DDE, PCB 138 and PCB 153 were primary contributors to the observed result. Other contaminants (HCB, PCB 101, gamma-HCH, PCB 170 and PCB 180) showed little obvious patterns between years and occurred at relatively low levels. No pattern was observed in contaminants when eggs were grouped according to river or altitude. These data provide a baseline for organochlorine contamination levels in Irish freshwater ecosystems against which future trends can be assessed. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.