Pegeen and her father have very different temperments; Michael James is easy going and fun loving while Pegeen is fiery and strong willed. While Michael James welcomes patrons to his pub, it is Pegeen who runs the business and keeps the patrons in line.
The play opens with an argument between father and daughter regarding Pegeen's fiance Shawn, who refuses to be in the same room with her without permission from the Vatican. Pegeen rebels against her father's traditional values.
When Christy arrives, confessing that he has murdered his father, Michael James gives him a job at the pub, thereby setting into motion the relationship between Christy and Pegeen.