Born into a respected Irish-Anglo family in 1860, Charles loves his native land and its long-suffering but irrepressible people. As a healer, he travels the countryside dispensing traditional cures while soaking up stories and legends of bygone times and witnessing the painful, often violent birth of land-reform measures destined to lead to Irish independence.
At the age of forty, summoned to Paris to treat his dying countryman the infamous Oscar Wilde Charles experiences the fateful moment of his life. In a chance encounter with a beautiful and determined young Englishwoman, eighteen-year-old April Burke, he is instantly and passionately smitten but callously rejected. Vowing to improve himself, Charles returns to Ireland, where he undertakes the preservation of the great and abandoned estate of Tipperary, in whose shadow he has lived his whole life and which, he discovers, may belong to April and her father.
As Charles pursues his obsession, he writes the "History" of his own life and country. While doing so, he meets the great figures of the day, including Charles Parnell, William Butler Yeats, and George Bernard Shaw. And he also falls victim to less well-known characters who prove far more dangerous. Tipperary also features a second "historian": a present-day commentator, a retired and obscure history teacher who suddenly discovers that he has much at stake in the telling of Charles's story.