When Dick O'Gorman and Billy Kilroy choose Paradise Beach, New Jersey, as the ideal place to smuggle ashore Cuban missiles for the Irish Republican Army, no one realizes the violent upheaval into which the community will soon be thrown. It is 1984. Irish Americans, preoccupied by a loss of political power in the cities, have little sympathy for Ireland and the IRA. This is especially true of Patrolman Mick O'Day, an ex-Marine sergeant haunted by moral failure in Vietnam. Worsening Mick's inner torment, Trai Nguyen Phac, the beautiful Vietnamese woman who seduced him into betraying his own men, is living as a refugee in Paradise Beach. The final element in this combustible mix is a British secret agent disguised as a priest who, sowing raging suspicion between the IRA men and the Irish Americans, ignites a physical and spiritual explosion that tears the community apart at its very seams.
With unflinching candor and vivid insight, Hours of Gladness illuminates the journey of the twentieth-century Irish soul in Ireland and America.