Historians of early modern Ireland have often been rather too monolithic in their readings of representations of Ireland and the Irish. Many commentators now insist that Ireland has to be viewed in terms of British or European developments. Using examples from a selection of writers-Luke Gernon, Sir Henry Sidney, Sir William Herbert, John Derricke, Barnaby Rich, Sir John Davies-this article argues that Ireland was invariably represented through the use of overlapping, often competing, discourses of savagery and domestic political concerns. In themselves, such discourses can be further sub-divided into various empirical and theoretical modes of writing. Moreover, identical representations were often produced or read in different ways so that the significance of context and register has to be taken into account when examining the evidence available.