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In Dublin in 1911 during a period of growing protest against British rule, young John Cassidy is a laborer by day and a pamphleteer by night. Cassidy is a member of both the Irish Transport and General Workers Union and the Irish Citizens Army, which is trained for uprisings against the British. When the pamphlets he has written incite riots, Cassidy realizes that he can do more for his people with the pen than with the sword. In the course of a riot, Cassidy rescues Daisy Battles, a fiery music hall dancer, and they soon become lovers. Their affair is short-lived, however, and Cassidy becomes involved with Nora, a bookshop clerk who encourages his writing and falls in love with him. He brings a play he has written to the Abbey Theatre; and though it is rejected, another of his plays, The Shadow of a Gunman , is accepted and successfully produced, as are two subsequent plays. The opening of The Plough and The Stars , which deals with religion, sex, and patriotism in Ireland, causes the audience to riot, and he loses many friends; but he is undeterred and is soon acclaimed as Ireland's outstanding young playwright. Nora realizes that Cassidy no longer needs her, and he departs for England and international acclaim.