This paper addresses the topic of community perceptions of mental disorder in Ireland. The delivery of mental health services occurs within the context of socially shared beliefs concerning the nature of mental health problems and such beliefs play an important role in the successful development of acceptable and accessible community-based mental health services. This paper provides an overview of research studies on public attitudes to mental disorder in Ireland and presents the main findings from a recent study exploring the perceptions and implicit beliefs of mental disorder held by members of a rural community in the West of Ireland. A series of vignettes and a standardised attitude scale were employed to explore the range, structure and determinants of public beliefs, in relation to the definition, cause, treatment and prognosis of mental disorder. The influence of such factors as respondentsí demographic characteristics and prior level of psychiatric contact on expressed beliefs are examined. The implications of the findings in relation to the development of community mental health services and the promotion of mental health issues in Ireland are discussed.