The story was written to order, as an after-supper "shocker" for a Hub Club gathering of amateur journalists in Boston on March 10, 1921. The meeting had a St. Patrick's Day theme. (EXP: An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia)
The unnamed narrator describes the final fate of his good friend, Denys Barry, an Irish-American who reclaims an ancestral estate in Kilderry, a fictional town in Ireland. Barry ignores pleas from the local peasantry not to drain the nearby bog, with unfortunate supernatural consequences. The story bears a similarity to Lord Dunsany's first Irish novel The Curse of the Wise Woman in theme, showing the influence of Dunsany on Lovecraft's works.
Like Barry, Lovecraft had dreams of buying back his ancestors' home in England. (EXP: An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia) This same theme is treated with greater depth in Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls" (1923).