© Irish Journal of Sociology. Rather than the preserve of the theorist, critique is a pervasive modern phenomenon requiring interpretation and analysis. In particular, this article pursues the relationship between liminal transitions and critical discourse, arguing that the former provokes the latter, and that critique makes transition almost interminable. Following Keohane and Kuhling (2004, 2007), the Celtic Tiger is thematised as ‘liminality’, a suspension of order, which incites and diffuses critical reflection on the ‘taken for granted’. This wider social process is tracked by an analysis of a corpus of media texts published between 1997 and 2007, from widely divergent social and political positions. ‘Critical discourse’ then emerges as a series of interrelated tropes; disfigurement, cynicism, influence and unmasking.