A growing body of evidence supports the inclusion of whole grain foods in the diet to help prevent certain chronic diseases. Although much of the research has been conducted in adult cohorts, it is thought that younger populations may also benefit from whole-grain-rich diets. The aim of the present study was to quantify the intake of whole grain in Irish children and teenagers, and assess the major sources of intake. Data used in the present study were from the National Children's Food Survey and the National Teens' Food Survey, which used 7 d food diaries to collect data on habitual food and beverage consumption in representative samples of Irish children and teenagers. Results showed that over 90 % of children (5–12 years) and over 86 % of teenagers (13–17 years) are consumers of whole grain, with mean daily intakes of 18·5 and 23·2 g/d, respectively. Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals made the greatest contribution to whole grain intakes for both children and teenagers (59·3 and 44·3 %), followed by bread (14·4 and 26·5 %), with wheat being the major source of intake, accounting for over 65 % of all whole grains consumed. Whole grain consumers had significantly higher intakes of fibre, P and Mg in comparison with non-consumers of whole grain, even though whole grain intakes in this sample were well below the recommendation of three servings or 48 g/d. The present study characterises, for the first time, the patterns of whole grain consumption in Irish children and teenagers and shows whole grain intake to be low.