This paper investigates transport policy in the Republic of Ireland(1) before, during and after the 'Celtic Tiger' era (1995-2007), to capture how the prevailing governance system responded to rapid economic, political, and social changes. We argue that a detailed record of changes in Irish transport policy and governance during these turbulent times can offer lessons that are relevant to sustainable transport efforts internationally. Focusing on the development, introduction and subsequent implementation of two transport policy milestones, this paper considers political and institutional conditions that paved the way for both a high-cost approach to transport infrastructure development prior to the financial crisis in 2008 and the subsequent shift in policy discourse towards 'smarter' more sustainable travel following the rapid deterioration of public finances in the late 2000s. It then asks what changes (if any) are needed to current political-institutional structures to ensure future implementation of these declaratory commitments to sustainable transport. The concluding section explores whether it would be possible, or indeed desirable, to put current transport policy responses to the economic crisis on a more permanent footing, with a view to advancing the sustainable transport agenda, and uncovers opportunities to promote and implement sustainability initiatives in times of financial restraints. (C) 2015 World Conference on Transport Research Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.