We present an analysis of the Northern Irish bog oak record presented in Turney et al. (2005) for the last 4500 years. The record is compared with a compiled peatland water table record from the same region and palaeohydrological data from northern England and mid-latitude Europe. It is apparent that there is no consistent relationship between the population frequency of Irish bog oaks and the palaeohydrological reconstructions, illustrating that the record is not reflecting wetness changes in peatlands. We suggest that the bog oaks should be scrutinised on a within-site and a site-by-site basis to assess the spatial coherency of the shifts in tree populations and the synchronicity of phases of germination and dying off (GDO). Further work is needed to critically examine the controls on the establishment and demise of bog oaks on Irish peatlands before these data can be used as a palaeoclimate proxy. Only then can they be used to test solar forcing of Holocene climate change.