Kate and John Ryan have four children, of which the eldest are Michael and Dara. Their small town is peaceful and friendly, an unchanging background for a golden childhood. In long, hot summers Dara and Michael and their friends fish and swim or play in the ivy-clad ruins of Fernscourt, the great house burned down during the Troubles . . .
No one in Mountfern has the slightest inkling of what it will mean when the ruins are bought by Patrick O'Neill, an Irish American with a dream in his heart and a great deal of money in his pocket. It is not until the very end of this drama, with its interlocking stories of loves lost and won, ambitions nurtured and secrets betrayed, that Patrick O'Neill will understand the irony and the significance of his great dream for Mountfern.