The western Ireland Ordovician stratigraphy has been previously used to constrain the timing of docking of an island arc and its fore-arc basin with the margin of Laurentia for the British and Irish Caledonides. New field relationships and age data indicate that one of the key formations, the Rosroe Formation (459.2 ± 0.8 and 465.1 ± 2.1 Ma), and its supposed lateral equivalent, the Maumtrasna Formation are younger than previously interpreted. New age data for a tuff band in the Maumtrasna Formation (468.9 ± 1.3 Ma) also support previous studies showing it can be correlated to the adjacent Mweelrea Formation. The new field evidence, age data and geochemistry contradict some previous studies and show that the Maumtrasna, Rosroe and Derrylea formations can no longer be considered lateral equivalents. Based on the new stratigraphy a revised tectonic model is required with sedimentation in this part of the Caledonides taking place in a fore-arc basin outboard of a continental arc and the oceanic arc was an along-strike equivalent of this arc situated in an embayment of the Laurentian margin. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.