In 1953, Desmond Doyle takes on the Irish family law system and the Catholic Church in a bid to be reunited with his children. Despite a strong work ethic, Desmond has a hard time holding on to steady work. Desmond's wife walks out on the relationship and his sporadic employment eventually attracts the attention of the law. A court order sends his two sons and young daughter to separate Catholic orphanages until Desmond can prove he's capable of properly supporting them. However, Desmond discovers merely getting work is not enough to bring his children back to him.