Henry Smart is born in the Dublin slums in 1901.
His father is a one-legged hit man whose wooden leg proves an effective tool of the trade.
As Henry brawls and steals to survive, he begins to follow in his father's footsteps in more ways than he can imagine.
Fourteen-year-old Henry Smart has taken part in the Easter Uprising.
In the basement of Dublin's occupied post office, his former teacher Miss O'Shea has given him a lesson in seduction.
Having escaped execution by diving down a manhole, Henry is now beginning a new chapter in his life.