This article explores social mobilization in the controversy over hydraulic fracturing (i.e. “fracking”) in Ireland from the perspectives of agenda setting in national and local Irish newspapers as well as framing by anti-fracking activists and journalists. We analysed all articles referencing hydraulic fracturing (and related terms) from 11 Irish national newspapers and 128 Irish local newspapers from April 2013 to April 2014, and interviewed 19 journalists, activists, and government officials affiliated with fracking issues in Ireland. Based on the analytical salience and resonance across prominent empirical themes in conjunction with theoretical insights, we conclude that social mobilization against fracking in Ireland is challenged by a frame war on the credibility of activists, diverse economic interests across national and local scales, and the need for procedural legitimacy in the contribution of science. In conclusion, this research demonstrates the importance of agenda setting and framing in structuring the capacity for social mobilization.