This paper develops a novel framework for analysing how planning became implicated in the Irish boom, bubble and bust years, as planners and politicians alike focused on generating positive visions for the future, whilst variously working to displace, defer and transfer the political tensions of the present. Empirically we focus on both national planning reforms and the high hopes for city regional planning in Cork Ireland after the publication of an innovative, non-statutory strategic plan in 2001. A decade or so later, the plan has faltered, unable to broker a sustained commitment to its core principles from all partners. The reasons for this, we argue, relate to the wider problems of planning in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years, as an economic boom got translated into a property bubble, something that few officials cared to recognize or challenge publicly at the time. There were, however, doubters-but they were sidelined or vilified. Framing our analysis in terms of recent literature on soft spaces and post-politics, we argue that soft space planning for metropolitan Cork exposes deep-seated problems in Irish planning. © 2012 Taylor & Francis.