The article presents a profile of national parks and natural heritage areas in the Irish Republic, and takes a look at nature conservation, wildlife management and heritage protection activities. It is shown that the country has a rich natural heritage. Nature conservation is the responsibility of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Most fauna and selected plant species are protected by legislation and hunting is strictly regulated. Five fauna refuges and 75 nature reserves covering 18 000 ha protect wildlife and habitats. In addition, there are 1200 Natural Heritage Areas, with priority given to the protection of peatlands and calcareous habitats. The five national parks of Killarney, Connemara, Glenveagh, Wicklow Mountains and Burren are managed in accordance with World Conservation Union criteria. Interpretation has a high priority within the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which publishes brochures and booklets on aspects of the parks. The parks also have management plans, but no specific legislation has yet been drawn up.