Out of the Flames details one family's direct experiences of the Northern Ireland Troubles. On the 7th December 1971 Philip Coogan's life changes overnight, lucky to survive after a sectarian bomb destroys his thriving garage business in the seaside town of Donaghadee, but the innocence of his wife and children died.
Determined to rebuild, Philip is frustrated at every turn by the cold shoulders of planning authorities and those who told him they would see him 'run out of town'. Despite some help from an unexpected quarter - the Reverend Ian Paisley - there seems to be no way forward in an increasingly suspicious and hostile community.
As the Troubles intensify, repeated attempts are made on Philip's life, and he and his young family flee across the border to the Republic, renting a damp and dilapidated cottage in Roscommon. Struggling to make ends meet, while reliving the horror of past events, Philip's health deteriorates as he suffers severe post-traumatic shock disorder and other related illnesses. Desperate for a better life for their children, Philip, and his wife plan to emigrate, but with no income, nor compensation for his injuries, it proves impossible.
The final straw comes with a risible offer of £120 for the site of his former business from the local Government in the North. Feeling defrauded and conspired against, Philip becomes increasingly angry and paranoid, and finally is admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Drugged and violently humiliated, he emerges a broken man. It seems that Philip's life, in any meaningful sense is over. What can possibly save him?
Out of the Flames charts, with lyricism and moving honesty, the remarkable triumph over tragedy of one ordinary man, living through extraordinary times.