Set in present day Ireland, The Honey Spike is concerned with a kind of people whose way of life has remained unchanged for centuries -- the tinkers, and with the fortunes of a particular young couple, Martin and Breda Claffey, who, in a year's time have travelled the length of Ireland and are, in the course of this novel, homeward bound for the birth of their first child. They are pathetically young, 17 and 18, but they are endowed, as part of their natural inheritance, with the ability to contend against a hostile world and to swear a lie if they have to. Breda is determined that their child will be born in a favored place -- a ""honey spike"" -- and she pulls and tugs at Claffey from Ireland's northernmost tip to County Kerry. In their homeland, however, they are detained by a boisterous Fair and by unresolved attachments. In the melee that follows Breda receives an injury which contributes to the loss of her life though their child is safely delivered. They are defeated then not by their expected enemies but finally by forces of their own making. Simply put the story has its own effectiveness which MacMahon persistently undermines by the elaborated texture of his prose and the evident striving for ""poetic"" touches..