The ombudsman idea in Ireland is now almost fifty years old. This article provides a citizen perspective on several ombudsman-type institutions and services across a broad variety of fields and issues. The underlying assump -tions of ombudsman-type services are outlined, with a citizen perspective of how they work in practice. Ten illustrative case studies are provided, each followed by a short commentary. The article analyses the cross-cutting issues arising: the uneven resource field in skills, knowledge and time; the need for ‘blue sea’ between the ombudsman-type institution and state agencies; the evidence bar for complaints; and the individualisation of complaints when there are systemic issues important for public administration. Because of the asymmetry of resources between the two parties, there is a strong case for ombudsman-type institutions to provide more assistance to complainants to advance and progress their complaints, so that a more level playing field can be achieved.