A young man struggles to grow up with principles as his family begins to self-destruct around him in this coming of age drama. Cole McKay (Michael Angarano) is a boy in his middle-teens growing up in an Irish-Catholic family in Boston. While Cole has dreams of playing major league baseball some day, his parents Desmond (Brendan Gleeson) and Margaret (Melissa Leo) are blind to his ambitions, and his older brother Terry (Tom Guiry) is a petty criminal who is unwittingly drawing Cole into his orbit. While Margaret is obsessed with projecting an image that the McKay family are happy and God-fearing folk, Desmond has been sinking deeper into depression ever since he lost his job, and his marriage is slowly but surely falling apart. The family's pride takes a body blow when Cole's teenage sister Kathleen (Emily Van Camp) discovers she's pregnant, but Cole decides it's time he took on some adult responsibilities, and gets himself a part-time job at a restaurant. Black Irish was the first directorial effort for screenwriter Brad Gann.
by Mark Deming synopsis