The play deals with Larry Doyle, from Ireland, and Tom Broadbent, an Englishman. They are civil engineers who run a firm in London. They go to Roscullen, where Doyle was born, to develop some land.
Doyle has no illusions about Ireland while Broadbent is taken with the romance of the place. Broadbent, a lively man who is not always aware of the impression he makes, becomes a favourite of the people. Before the play is over, it is clear he will marry Nora Reilly, the woman waiting for Doyle (who is more than happy to let her go) and become the area's candidate for Parliament (after Doyle refuses to stand).
Another major character is former priest Peter Keegan, the political and temperamental opposite of Broadbent.
It was a great success and the Court would go on to produce many other Shaw plays, both old and new.
Dealing with the Irish question of the time, the play was seen by many major British political figures. A command performance was given for King Edward VII. He laughed so hard he broke his chair. This incident was widely reported and—after more than a decade of playwriting—Shaw's name was made in London.
As popular as the play was originally, it is not one of Shaw's more revived pieces, likely due to the dated nature of the politics involved.