An aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometer (ATOFMS) was deployed for the measurement of the size resolved chemical composition of single particles at a site in Cork Harbour, Ireland for three weeks in August 2008. The ATOFMS was co-located with a suite of semi-continuous instrumentation for the measurement of particle number, elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC), sulfate and particulate matter smaller than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5). The temporality of the ambient ATOFMS particle classes was subsequently used in conjunction with the semi-continuous measurements to apportion PM2.5 mass using positive matrix factorisation. The synergy of the single particle classification procedure and positive matrix factorisation allowed for the identification of six factors, corresponding to vehicular traffic, marine, long-range transport, various combustion, domestic solid fuel combustion and shipping traffic with estimated contributions to the measured PM2.5 mass of 23%, 14%, 13%, 11%, 5% and 1.5% respectively. Shipping traffic was found to contribute 18% of the measured particle number (20–600 nm mobility diameter), and thus may have important implications for human health considering the size and composition of ship exhaust particles. The positive matrix factorisation procedure enabled a more refined interpretation of the single particle results by providing source contributions to PM2.5 mass, while the single particle data enabled the identification of additional factors not possible with typical semi-continuous measurements, including local shipping traffic.