On the ground where they won the World Cup only 10 days ago and with just over a week before the Ashes begin, the long-standing deficiencies in England’s batting were once again exposed.
Middlesex seamer Tim Murtagh, playing on his home ground, picked up 5-13 as England were bowled out before lunch after winning the toss.
At one stage, the home side lost six wickets for seven runs and gave up all 10 in a single session for the fourth time in three years.
When Ireland reached 132-2, thanks mainly to 55 from Andy Balbirnie, England were in danger of being out of the contest against an Ireland side playing only their third Test.
But Stuart Broad and debutant Olly Stone shared four wickets in the evening session to spark an Ireland collapse of 5-17.
The visitors were eventually bowled out for 207, leaving England to negotiate one over and close on 0-0 – trailing by 122 – on a slow surface that is offering a little for bowlers of all kinds.
England are not out of the game, but must produce a second-innings batting performance unrecognisable from their first in order to set Ireland a testing chase.
If they fail, Ireland will be on course for their most famous victory and one of Test cricket’s all-time biggest shocks.