This paper reviews the decline to probable extinction of the corn bunting (Miliaria calandra) in the Republic of Ireland. This species has undergone severe population decline in other western European countries, where studies have suggested that changes in the agricultural environment are probably largely responsible. The most important factors are thought to be the decline in mixed farming and the loss of temporary grasslands, hay meadows and undersown cereals, especially spring cereals and overwinter cereal stubbles. These crops provided the preferred breeding and overwintering habitats of the corn bunting, and the use of pesticides may have reduced the availability of invertebrate and seed food supplies. Some of these agricultural changes have also occurred in Ireland and may be responsible for the corn bunting's decline here. Many other farmland birds have also shown severe range and population declines in western Europe, and similar agricultural changes are thought to be responsible. Some evidence suggests that many seed-eating farmland birds have undergone range declines in the Republic of Ireland. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive assessment of the population status of farmland birds in Ireland and for studies of their ecology, in order to draw up and implement effective conservation management plans. Without such action, other familiar birds could soon disappear from the Irish landscape.