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Data from the Irish Census of Industrial Production are used to illuminate changes in the distribution of earnings from 1937 to 1968, an important period in Irish economic history, relevant to debates about globalization and inequality. Between the late 1930s and mid-1950s there was a greater compression of earnings than in the US’s ‘great compression’ of the same period. Sectoral data suggest that this occurred quite generally. The degree of integration with the British labour market is key, and the impact of out-migration, wage controls during the Second World War, and industrial protection all merit in-depth investigation.