In 1952, Eilis (pronounced AY-lish) Lacey is a young woman from Enniscorthy, a small town in southeast Ireland. She works weekends at a shop run by the spiteful Miss Kelly. Eilis’s older sister Rose has arranged for her to go to the US to find a better future. She departs but begins to suffer from seasickness and food poisoning and ends up being locked out of the toilet by her cabin neighbors. The woman in the bunk below her, an experienced traveler, helps her, giving her advice and support for Eilis’s entry to the US and life in Brooklyn, the new home to many Irish immigrants. Eilis lives at an Irish boarding house where she dines each night with the traditionalist landlady and her fellow residents, all young women. She also has a job at a department store but is shy and quiet when interacting with customers, earning the gentle scolding of Miss Fortini, her supervisor. Her letters from her sister Rose, back in Ireland, give her homesickness. She is visited by Father Flood, a priest who arranged for her job and accommodation, and he tries to help by enrolling her in bookkeeping classes. At a dance she meets Tony, from an Italian family, who is quickly interested with her and becomes her boyfriend. With these developments, Eilis begins to feel more comfortable in New York, although she is slow to return Tony’s declaration of love. Father Flood informs Eilis that Rose has died suddenly of an undisclosed illness. After a trans-Atlantic phone call with her mother reveals that she is struggling to cope, Eilis decides to return home for a visit. Tony insists that if she is leaving they must get secretly married first. They enter a civil marriage without telling family and friends. Back in Ireland, everybody seems to be conspiring to keep Eilis from returning to Brooklyn. Her best friend is getting married a week after her scheduled return journey, and her mother has already accepted the invitation on her behalf. She is set up on dates with eligible bachelor Jim, who is about to inherit property. She takes her sister’s place as a bookkeeper on an emergency basis. Eilis starts to feel that she now has the future in Ireland that did not exist when she left and stops opening the letters she receives from Tony. Miss Kelly, her former employer, meets with Eilis and says she has learned that she is already married. Eilis is reminded of the small-town mentality she had escaped, where there are no secrets. She informs her mother of her marriage and that she is leaving for Brooklyn the next day. On the crossing, she plays the role of the experienced traveler, offering words of guidance to a first-time émigré. The film ends with Eilis and Tony reuniting and happily embracing.