A story of Dublin and doomed and damned lives is told by newspaperman Brian Flood who emphasizes his own as well as others' troubles. Wealthy, bitter Mary Fergus makes a friend of Philomena and this leads to Mary's meeting David Murray, chained to an invalid's life, and his madly possessive mother. David's helplessness breaks down Mary's isolation, turns her from her dark negativeness and brings her love but his mother's discovery of Mary's not too savory past brutally halts the affair. David's escape from his home results in his death and Mary, in despair, suicides. Around this wanders Phillomena's love for Dinny, Flood's broken marriage and attempts to recapture the past with woman from his home town, the intervention of the little priest which causes no miracles and other unrelated but involved characters. A dispersive dissertation on good and evil, this is not without a certain Irish come-hither in its style.