Although the Irish software industry has been in existence since the late 1960s, in the last ten years it has become an enormous success story and, by some estimates, is the largest exporter of software in the world. In this study, we derive a conceptual framework with which to investigate the emergence and evolution of the Irish software industry. In this framework endogenous factors ¿ national, enterprise and individual ¿ are examined against a backdrop of exogenous factors to explain Ireland¿s success in the software industry. Two important themes emerged from the study. One is the shift towards a risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit in the software sector that had historically been absent in Ireland. The other is the long-standing government policy of intervention in the software sector, which became increasingly more focused throughout the 1990s. The framework and the lessons from the study should prove useful to researching other countries who are seeking to learn lessons from the Irish experience.