In an increasingly mobile world, territorially bounded notions of the nation are being rethought, but so are the rationalities of governing mobility and migration. Emigration has become a target of governance in new ways in recent years in the Republic of Ireland with specific implications of the governance of contemporary immigration. This article discusses how emigration has constituted the national `weż in the past and present in order to show how familiar, if changing, relationships between emigration and the Irish nation are now being unsettled through the more contradictory juxtaposition of emigrants, immigrants and the national. The article questions the political potential of this destabilisation of national belonging in the context of neożliberal rationalities of governance at a distance, and argues that the interplay of pastoral and economic rationalities of migration governance offers Irish nationals continued economic prosperity without being disturbed by the proximity of the unfamiliar. © 2006 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.