Mickey Enright is not ready to be dead. His life on earth has been more than satisfactory. He is an icon in Tralee, a “typical Kerryman,” an easy-going, life-of-the-party jokester, a man’s man, a decent, although unexceptional, provider who took for granted the faithfulness of his wife, the love of his children, Kerry football, and a few pints with the lads in Betty’s Pub on Rock Street.
Convinced there has been a mistake, he demands, of a cigar-smoking, wise-cracking, irreverently humorous St. Peter, another chance at mortality, insisting that he shouldn’t have been forced to leave so quickly, that too many people depend on him and, more to the point, he deserves it. Doesn’t he go to Mass every Sunday and donate a generous amount to the collection plate? Hasn’t he given up the fags, restricted his drinking to Friday nights and, within reason, kept to his marriage vows? St. Peter, with an agenda of his own, sends Mickey back to Tralee in the form of a stranger, a man named Patrick.
Meanwhile, in Tralee, a year has passed since Mickey’s death. Fifty-year-old Johannah Enright, “Hannie” to her friends, has surfaced from the strangling depression that held her in its grip for months after her husband’s wake. Having stifled her independence for years, she is ready for a fresh start to her life until, one by one, her extended family descends upon her, each with compelling reason for invading Hannie’s privacy: a daughter questioning her marriage, a son unemployed by the downturn in the real estate market, a mother suffering from dementia who insists on bringing her large, untrained and temperamental dog. Once again, Hannie finds herself perilously close to her cast-off roles as care-giver, counselor, banker, babysitter and dog-walker. She brings her resentments to her new friend, Patrick, a man she meets at the Internet Café.
And so, Mickey, his original purpose to win back his former life, finds himself in the unique position of attempting to make amends to a woman he is only beginning to know and, in so doing, plays directly into the hands of St. Peter.