Role in the film
Michael arrives from Dublin with Lord Fitzpatrick to the gatehouse next to his manor house in Rathcullen. There, he meets Katie O'Gill, the daughter of Lord Fitzpatrick's current caretaker, Darby O'Gill. Lord Fitzpatrick reveals that Darby has grown too old to be the caretaker and now spends most of his days telling stories at the pub for the last five years. The two men decide to have a look at the gatehouse; not before Darby's neighbor, Sheelah Sugrue, tries to convince him to hire her son, Pony, as his new caretaker.
When Darby finally shows up after Katie fetches him from the pub, Lord Fitzpatrick introduces Michael MacBride to him as his replacement caretaker since he needs a younger man to look after his place despite Darby's great services throughout the years. However, Michael agrees to allow Darby and Katie to stay until it is time for them to move to a new home within two weeks while he stays in a room at Tom Kerrigan's place for a few nights after finishing work at Lord Fitzpatrick's insistence.
After Lord Fitzpatrick leaves, Michael makes his way to the Rathcullen Arms but Darby invites and insists he stays with him and Katie for a fortnight. He insists Michael not to reveal his true reason for coming so that Darby can break the news at the right time. Over the next few days, Katie and Michael begin to show affection for each other; hinted at one point when she admires him singing "Pretty Irish Girl".
Later, Darby and King Brian scheme to have Katie and Michael fall in love. King Brian visits Michael in his dreams and urges his feelings for Katie. When Michael shows reluctance, King Brian counters by suggesting he is afraid of Pony, who is also pursuing her. The following day, Michael follows King Brian's suggestion and takes Katie on a visit to the ruins of Knocknasheega outside of town. When Pony shows up and tries to intimidate Michael, Katie gets between them and sends Pony off. At first, Michael is upset at Katie for interfering, but then works up his nerve and kisses her.
When Sheelah discovers Michael is to be the new caretaker, she and Pony scheme to get him fired. Sheelah reveals the truth to Katie, who now believes Michael is here to throw her and her father out and rejects his offer of marriage. That night, after Michael fails to stop Katie from going to Knocknasheega to fetch her father's horse, Cleopatra, Pony knocks Michael out and dumps him in front of the manor, pouring whiskey all over him to make it appear he has been drinking. Fortunately, Darby finds him first and wakes him up. When Darby and Michael hear the wail of the Banshee, they rush over to Knocknasheega to find Katie before it is too late. After Katie has a near-fatal fall and is saved by Darby and King Brian, the two make up.
The next day, Michael confronts Pony in the pub and beats him in a fistfight before all the townspeople. He and Darby leave with Katie to spend the rest of the day working at the manor and ride off singing "Pretty Irish Girl" together again. Then, Michael and Katie share a kiss as they ride off.
- The postcard that arrives at the manor is addressed to "Michael MacBride", a Scottish spelling, instead of "McBride," the character's actual last name and typical Irish spelling. While this might be a mistake, it could be a subtle play on the fact that Sean Connery, who plays Michael MacBride, is not Irish but Scottish.
- The duet "Pretty Irish Girl", apparently sung by Sean Connery and Janet Munro, has been alleged to feature dubbed vocals by Irish singers, Brendan O'Dowda and Ruby Murray.
- The lines of poetry quoted by Katie and Michael which include "The hills of old Ireland, how wondrously they stand" are from the poem "The Pillar Towers of Ireland" by Denis Florence MacCarthy (1817-1882).
- Sean Connery wore a toupee in this and every other film that he starred in including the James Bond franchise since he first started going bald at 21.
- Sean Connery won the role of James Bond after producer, Albert R. Broccoli attended a screening of this film and was particularly impressed with the fistfight his character had with Pony Sugrue at the end of the movie.