This paper presents a summary account of the changing nature of places in the urban fringe in Ireland. As such places are still largely perceived of as rural in nature, this involves a consideration of what constitutes the rural, itself the subject of ongoing debate. Using research conducted in three urban fringe locations in the West of Ireland, the discussion explores how such places are being conceptualised, through an analysis of the lay discourses of a number of residents. These lay accounts of place, particularly the meanings assigned to the rural and the urban, are examined with a view to understanding how spaces and places, still broadly regarded as rural, are being produced, and how both changing and conflicting representations of the rural are altering the experiences of such places. (c) 2007 Published by Elsevier Ltd.