In this article, I examine a community psychiatric nurse's highly commodified descriptions of the activities and interests of two clients of a mental hospital in rural Ireland. These examples show an intimate relationship between a discourse of economics and a discourse of rationality that can also be discovered in sources connected to the history of Ireland's mental hospital system. Using these and other connections, I argue that the distinctive utilitarian rationality associated with modernity, as well as reactions to it, can be promulgated and maintained at a local level through means other than economic markets. At the same time, I explain how the mental hospital now has a place within a local moral world. These two insights provide a novel perspective on a venerable debate in social scientific work on Ireland (and, by implication, many other peripheral areas of the global economy), that is, if, how, and in what respects the place has "modernized.".