Desmond Doyle is devastated when his wife abandons their family on the day after Christmas. His unemployment and the fact that there is no woman in the house to care for the children, Evelyn, Noel and Brendan, make it clear to the authorities that his is an untenable situation. The Catholic Church and the Irish courts decide to put the Doyle children into Church-run orphanages. Although a sympathetic judge assures Desmond that when his financial situation reverses, he will be able to get his children back; money is hard to come by. During that time, Evelyn and her brothers suffer the abuses of living in orphanages while Desmond struggles to secure finances. Now he must battle the courts to get his children back.