Young Francis Hanrahan dreams desperately of a life different from that of his country-born, suburban-living parents. On his first day at his first job Francis makes his first real friend. Shay, a would-be older brother, introduces "Hano" to Dublin's appealingly seedy after-hours bars and drug-fueled parties. They are joined by Cait, a troubled teenager who spends her days in a stupor. But the noir thrills of underground Dublin cannot conceal the unemployment, corruption, and violence strangling the city. The Plunkett brothers, masters of "the subtle everyday corruption on which a dynasty was built" will use the friends—with tragic results.
Torn between his friends, his family, and his own ideals, Hano ultimately falls victim to these powerful forces and commits a heinous crime. He flees through the countryside with Cait, wondering, as he narrates the events that set him on this path, if there is a home at the end of it.
Controversial for its gritty portrait of Dublin in the 1980s, The Journey Home is Dermot Bolger's unflinching look at the personal cost of social progress, and those, innocent or not, lost during the journey.