Such a naive giddiness of emotion is ripe for tragedy
He returns from the city to the small farming community where he grew up; he's earning good money as a translator for the English army which is mapping the area.
Ciaran Hinds' Hugh - Owen's alcoholic father - scratches a living as a teacher, entering the classroom with an authority that drapes the room in silence. He teaches Latin and Greek but refuses to teach English.
Owen's work includes anglicising the names of local landmarks for the map. He doesn't see the point of keeping eccentric old names which were born out of long forgotten local stories.
Hugh is more protectionist, wedded to tradition and the classics.
What should your relationship with the past and cultural traditions be?
The question is explored through the colourful characters that make up this small Irish community and its 'frenemy' relationship with the English soldiers.
It is this relationship that forms the narrative drive: Developing feelings and misunderstandings breed tension.
As does the pregnant absence of the 'Donnelly twins', the mere mention of which elicits uncomfortable looks.
They are playwright Brian Friel's equivalent of a Chekhov Gun.
There is also a love triangle. Owen's brother Manus (Seamus O'Hara) is in love with Maire (Judith Roddy) who has entered into a relationship with Yolland (Adetomiwa Edun), one of the English soldiers.
Yolland has a romanticised view of Ireland, wants to learn the local language and feels uncomfortable anglicising the Irish names.