The play begins in a two-room apartment in in Dublin. A picture of the Virgin Mary, hangs above a bowl containing a floating votive candle.
A lack of furniture is clear with of a bed and small set of draws, a fireplace, coal, an alarm clock, a bath, a table and chairs, a teapot, a frying pan, a few books, and a long-handled shovel.
We’re introduced to Juno Boyle and her daughter Mary, who are talking about a newspaper article written on the murder of their neighbour Mrs Tancred’s son.
Mary has a brother called Johnny who tells them to stop reading the newspaper and quickly exits .
Juno wonders if her husband ( ‘Captain’Jack Boyle) has returned yet. She speaks to Mary , informing her that he’ll have to go without breakfast if he doesn’t return soon.
She reckons that he will invite his friend ‘Joxer’ Daly in to share his dinner if she leaves. She states that he has already worn out his health insurance and will soon be out of unemployment, yet he is always singing.
Mary ignores this tying a ribbon around her head and wondering about which colour matches her outfit best. Her mother complains about her being on strike and not contributing to the household.
Johnny enters walking with a limp and missing an arm, having been shot in the hip during the Easter Week rebellion. He is upset that Mary is leaving the house, as he doesn’t want to remain home alone.
Juno tells him that his father will be home soon, only for Johnny to counter that his father hates to be asked to do anything. He questions if the candle in front of the picture of the Virgin Mary is still lit, and Juno calms him down by staring that it is indeed still lit.
Jerry Devine enters and Mary rushes away. He states that Father Farrell has offered Boyle a job, however Boyle is still out drinking with his friend Joxer.
Jerry tries to find him and Juno complains that her husband will deliberately miss the job to avoid work.
Boyle and Joxer come up the stairs, with Boyle singing. Juno sits on the bed with draperies hiding her from view.
Boyle welcomes Joxer inside, calming him and ensuring that Juno has left. He states that Juno is always moaning about something, and is very negative. Joxer seconds this view a agreeing that it is a hard thing to put up with.
Boyle offers Joxer a cup of tea. Juno makes her presence known and sarcastically offers Joxer an egg as well; in a panic of nervousness, he states he is in a rush to exit.
Boyle and Joxer talk of visiting the foreman of a job to start working. Juno expresses her disgust for the events and her moans about her husbands laziness. She explains that everyone calls him ‘Captain’ when in fact he only once went out on the water.
Juno questions Boyle on if he saw Jerry.
She says that he was in a pub; Boyle swears he wasn’t. She urges him to eat breakfast, Boyle proudly refuses.
Jerry enters and informs them that Boyle was lying, since the foreman in Foley’s pub informed him that Boyle had left just ten minutes earlier. Boyle counters this and complains about being watched all the time.
Jerry delivers the news, that he can have a job if he goes to Rathmines , Boyle immediately complains of sudden pain in his legs that would make it hard for him to work.
Boyle heads to the bedroom to change into his work pants and Juno exits to work. Jerry talks with Mary, informing her that he believes he will be elected secretary of his union and explaining how this could benefit her.
Mary has no interest and asks him to let her go, even shouting when he refuses. Boyle enters , only for Jerry and Marry to both exit.
Boyle argues that children don’t care about their parents anymore. Despite his bold words, Boyle puts the breakfast sausage in the pan to cook and begins to sing.
Noise is heard on the staircase and he hides the pan under the bed quickly, only for it to be man asking if he wants a sewing machine.
Boyle goes back to cooking his breakfast and singing , but is once again interrupted by thundering knocking at the street-level door.
Johnny asks who it is with Joxer afraid to look, but Boyle says it is a man with a trench coat who is going away.
Boyle invites Joxer to stay for dinner, however Joxer is still afraid that Juno might return, but Boyle convinces him that if she did, he could climb out the window and hide on the roof.
Joxer likes this solution and the two speak about books, inspired by one of Mary’s on the table.
Boyle briefs Joxer of the job he is going to be doing , Joxer says it is good news, but Boyle reminds him of the pains in his legs.
The duo discuss Jerry Devine, Father Farrell, and the clergy, with Boyle arguing that it’s no way to reward Johnny for his service to his country by making his father work.
A coal vendor’s voice echoes as he’s selling coal-blocks as Boyle and Joxer reminisce about Boyle’s fictitious days on a ship. The two once again hear footsteps near the door, with Boyle frantically attempting to hide everything and Joxer rushing to escape out the window.
Only for it to be the coal vendor, asking if they want any coal. Boyle states that he’s had enough of following Juno’s orders.
Juno’s voice can now be heard outside and Joxer throws himself out the window. Juno enters, and Boyle denies her assertions that he and Joxer had been together.
She demands him to smarten himself up as a visitor is coming; Boyle assumes the visit has to do with another job.
Mary enters with Charlie Bentham .Boyle and Johnny can be heard arguing as Boyle changes out of his work pants.
Juno introduces Johnny to Bentham, branching about her son’s service to Ireland, and then introduces her husband.
Bentham states that Boyle’s cousin (Mr. Ellison ) has passed away and that he wished to leave his property only to Michael Finnegan of Santry ( his second cousin) and to Boyle (his first cousin).
He mentions that half of the property would be worth between 1500 and 2000 pounds. The entire family is overjoyed.
Boyle explains that he is finished consorting with Joxer, who angrily climbs in through the window.
Joxer exits, and Boyle claims he is a new man, singing emotionally to his wife about how dear she is to him
Juno and The Paycock
Juno and the Paycock tells the story of the Boyle family in the grim slums of Dublin in the early 1920s. Juno, the mother of the family (and the only member who works), desperately tries to hold her family together in the face of adversity and misfortune. However her husband, Jack Boyle, would rather spend his time drinking with his persuasive pal, Joxer, than try to look for work and help the family.
He learns about potential inheritance only for it to get taken away, without his family knowing.