It is June 24, 1948 — the Feast of St. John the Baptist, the Bringer of Light, is being commemorated with bonfires ignited on the headlands. Father MacMurrough, newly arrived and desperately lonely, reflects on a failed love affair. Michael Barron, a young mute, falls in love and is puzzled by the way that his life — like the tremendous iceberg he and his friends explore — is turning into a dangerous business. Mary, an adolescent dreamer, invokes the pagan superstitions of Midsummer's Day in the hopes of divining her future husband. Behind them looms the founding father of the village, an Irish castaway, the son of a monk, dead five hundred years. Even in the middle of the twentieth century, something of his spirit survives within every soul in the community.