Ballykissangel is a small parish in rural Ireland where life is anything but humdrum. Peter Clifford, an English curate, has been posted in Ballykissangel and his arrival comes as something of a shock both to him and the local residents. Not at all fitting his expectations, the misty little town is by no means the sleepy backwater he had envisioned. He is faced with the local scam-artist, Brian Quigley, who has just installed an automated confessional--complete with fax machine--in the church, and his daughter Niamh who asks Father Peter for advice about premarital sex. There is also Father Mac, the parish priest, who is known to be fond of the bottle and far less fond of the English. And, perhaps his most difficult challenge is presented in the form of Assumpta Fitzgerald, the beautiful, fiery, and fiercely anti-clerical owner of the local pub, who proves to be a very attractive sparring partner on issues of all sorts.
Father Clifford is quickly forced to come to terms with idiosyncrasies of the various local characters of Ballykissangel, and to do so he will shake the foundation of their beliefs and the very bedrock of Irish Catholicism. Consequently, finding a foothold in the community proves to be harder than the youthful priest bargained for.