The declining fortunes of the aristocracy are examined in this drama set against the backdrop of the Irish struggle for independence in the 1920s. Sir Richard and Lady Myra Naylor (Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith) invite their niece Lois Farquar (Keeley Hawes) and a number of other guests to stay at their Cork estate. Lois is visited by her suitor Gerald Colthurst (David Tennant), a captain in the British army, and dances with him in the garden while the other house guests discuss the political situation. But overshadowing these proceedings is the presence of Peter Connolly (Gary Lydon), a Republican soldier who has kidnapped and killed a British sergeant and is now hiding at the bottom of the garden. Lois brings him food, but she must keep his presence secret from Gerald.