Jack Boyle is out of work and determined to stay that way. He postures and drinks with his sidekick Joxer while the long-suffering Juno balances threats with cajolement to preserve the semblance of family in a squalid tenement flat. Their son Johnny, crippled fighting for the IRA, cowers indoors, terrified of reprisal; his sister Mary has joined the labour movement and is on strike.
Sudden news of an inheritance provokes dreams of escape but, even before their rowdy celebrations are done, reality asserts itself as a neighbour’s corpse is carried down the stairs – another victim of the bitter civil war. Mary falls for an educated man as the loans stack up. Tragedy ensues.
Blessed Virgin, where were you when me darlin’ son was riddled with bullets? Sacred Heart o’ Jesus, take away our hearts o’ stone, and give us hearts o’ flesh! Take away this murdherin’ hate, an’ give us Thine own eternal love!