As part of the proposed modernisation of Irish local government a directly elected mayor with executive powers will be introduced in Dublin in 2011. It is then anticipated that the system of elected mayors will be extended to the whole country. However, it is not known what impact this new form of executive leadership will have on the prevailing system whereby city and county managers are dominant. Drawing from experiences in the United Kingdom and the United States, this paper suggests that Ireland needs a clear, unambiguous mayoral model. As a political leader with executive powers it is imperative that the mayor’s relationships with both the council and the city/county manager are tightly defined.