This paper is about linguistic justice issues in the post-colonial context of an Irish-speaking region in the south-west of Ireland, drawing on a study of political mobilization around the Irish-medium education policy of the region’s secondary school. I explore how the incipient Irish state was involved in a nationalizing project of developing strategies to constitute the Irish polity into a particular nation bound by an language of ‘archaic belonging’. Ithen examine how this nationalizing project was disrupted by structural shifts in the economic and demographic basis for the Irish-speaking communities on the Irish western seaboard. It is in this historical context that the Irish language emerges as a necessary nodal point around which political identity is formed. Local linguistic struggles are conceived as attempts to impose particular kinds of order on a field of meaning.