Sunday Sojourn – Gallipoli

Morning everyone, from a very sunny Whitley Bay. Today on the blog, I’m joined by Denise Deegan, to take us to Gallipoli, in Turkey, to talk about the emotional setting for her novel, Through the Barricades.

I want to visit Gallipoli, in Turkey – to remember, though I’ve never been there.

I have spent the last two years researching and writing a novel called Through the Barricades set in revolutionary Dublin and Gallipoli during WW1. The biggest surprise for me is how connected I felt to the young men who lived and died in the trenches. I long to visit Gallipoli because of that connection. I am drawn to the place like a murderer to the scene of his crime.

At some point, my research went beyond research. I began to inhabit my story. I lived in the trenches with the men. I saw their horror, smelled it, tasted it, touched it, heard it. Breathed it. I felt their fear, boredom, homesickness, thirst, optimism and pessimism.

And so, I will land on the beach at Suvla Bay on a misty dawn, as did Daniel, Michael and the rest of The Pals Regiment. I know that I’ll hear the sounds of shelling, gunfire and exploding mines. I know that my heart will pound. I know that I’ll sweat and very possibly break into a run to the base of the ridge hiding the enemy. I will taste army rum, bitter in my mouth and I will look back towards the hospital ships in the bay, their red and green lights bobbing.

By Archives New Zealand from New Zealand – Landing at Gallipoli, CC BY-SA 2.0,


I’ll hear the order to march inland. And I will go. The sun will beat down. The air will hum with heat. Flies will form a welcoming party, feeding on my sweat. I’ll ignore them and the thirst. Up ahead, I’ll see a mine explode into the 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers and I’ll hear the whispered curses of the men beside me.

Without knowing it, I’ll have halted. I’ll remember how to pray. Then I’ll urge myself on with images of my loved ones in my mind.

I’ll hear the sounds of war explode all round me. I’ll see bodies ripped apart and men fall like puppets. I’ll hear the groans of the wounded I step over.

I will cry.

And survive.

I’ll cling to friends who have made it.

I will live in trenches and fill my letters with lies so my loved ones don’t worry. I will feel the cold at night. I will watch for the enemy. And I will see it coming. Again.

I will know the panic of running out of ammunition. I will witness my friend catch enemy grenades and fire them back until one explodes him to kingdom come.

I will relive it all in Technicolour and surround sound.

Visiting Gallipoli will not be fun. It will not be pleasant. But it will be important. It will be a thank you to the souls of those men who entered my mind and heart as I wrote, sharing with me their story. It will be a proper ending to a humbling writing experience. And it will be a reminder that war is never the answer.

About Denise

Denise Deegan lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies.

Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story… Denise writes for both adults and teenagers. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise’s contemporary family dramas have become international best-sellers on Kindle.

Through the Barricades

Through The Barricades ebook cover

She was willing to sacrifice everything for her country.

He was willing to sacrifice everything for her. 

‘Make a difference in the world,’ are the last words Maggie Gilligan’s father ever says to her. They form a legacy that she carries in her heart, years later when, at the age of fifteen, she tries to better the lives of Dublin’s largely forgotten poor.

‘Don’t go getting distracted, now,’ is what Daniel Healy’s father says to him after seeing him talking to the same Maggie Gilligan. Daniel is more than distracted. He is intrigued. Never has he met anyone as dismissive, argumentative… as downright infuriating.

A dare from Maggie is all it takes. Daniel volunteers at a food kitchen. There, his eyes are opened to the plight of the poor. It is 1913 and Dublin’s striking workers have been locked out of their jobs. Their families are going hungry. Daniel and Maggie do what they can. Soon, however, Maggie realises that the only way to make a difference is to take up arms.

The story of Maggie and Daniel is one of friendship, love, war and revolution, of two people who are prepared to sacrifice their lives: Maggie for her country, Daniel for Maggie. Their mutual sacrifices put them on opposite sides of a revolution. Can their love survive?


Through the Barricades on

Through the Barricades on

Twitter: – !/denisedeegan Websites: &

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