Through the Barricades - Denise Deegan - Book Cover

Through the Barricades – Denise Deegan

Driven by her promise to ‘make a difference’ Maggie strives to fight for equality and education for all in this powerful tale of love in early 20th century Dublin


It is 1908, in the early hours of the day. A father saves his family from their burning home. Before he succumbs to the flames he urges his eight-year-old daughter to “make a difference in the world.” From then on her life will never be the same … Everything she strives for, her only goal is following her father’s dying wish. Had he known what he asked of her, the sacrifices she was willing to make, the dangers she would endure. he would never have uttered those words. But he did and Maggie is determined to do as her father told her.


The time is 1913, the place is Dublin, Ireland. The city is in an uproar because of the strikes. When Daniel and Michael cycle home from rugby practice, they have no idea that their chance meeting with a girl with a flat tyre will alter their future forever. The girl’s name is Maggie and she is fierce: she is opinionated and on the side of the strikers contrary to Michael, whose father is a policeman. Whilst Michael and Maggie despise each other, Daniel feels he has met a unique girl. Because of her views on social issues and inequality, Daniel is sure she will not take another look at him, let alone accept his friendship unless he joins in her activities. That is why he decides to help out at the food kitchen where Maggie is a volunteer. His initiative is the start of a deep-felt friendship but also the beginning of a learning process for Daniel who knows nothing about the struggles of the strikers, of the food banks, of the people living in abject poverty. How could he, brought up within the Dublin establishment, his father a lawyer. In the social circles Daniel and Michael enjoy there is no regard for the strikers.

Daniel is a pacifist whereas Maggie wishes she could pick up arms to fight the poverty and injustice of the workers’ lockout. She believes her quest for equality between men and women, rich and poor, education for all, is in accordance with her father’s dying wish. Their work at the food kitchen brings them in close contact with the consequences of the strike when five-year-old Lily’s mother dies and Maggie’s mother takes her in. Where Maggie helps Lily cope with her grief, little does she know that in the near future, the tables will be turned and she will be in need of Lily’s support. Slowly, the tense situation in Dublin escalates and out of love for Maggie, Daniel comes to an important decision. He is aware of Maggie’s tenacity for taking action and her longing to be part of elevating the Irish and the Irish Independence Movement. World War I is calling and a promise of Home Rule is hanging in the air but in the end, war, be it domestic or foreign, brings only loss and grief, heartbreak and sorrow. What can anyone do but fight for what they believe in and follow their conscience?

My Thoughts

Wow. I am in awe and so impressed. What a unique tale of love and the struggle for a better future, set against Dublin in the early years of the Twentieth Century. The Irish turmoil, the call for the Irish Republic and the social inequality of Dublin’s inhabitants: from the well-to-do who are able to send their children to private schools and University to those, living in poverty dependent on the food banks. The differences could not have been more poignant although, some always prefer to be ignorant rather than face the facts. I cannot but love Maggie, the strong, stubborn protagonist who drives on fulfilling her father’s dying wish. If anything, it shows us to be careful in imposing our (last) wishes upon others as we do not always realise the impact of it. It cost me much, not to shout out the father for missing the obvious and underestimating his daughter’s determination. How difficult it must have been for Maggie’s mother to keep silent, to respect her late husband and only when it is too late, she carefully addresses the issue, without success.

Set against the historical background of the 1913 Lockout, World War I, the social situation in Ireland, the political unrest and the Easter Rising, Denise Deegan tells us a fascinating tale of love, courage, determination and commitment. The author excellently describes the situation in Dublin, early 20th Century, in such a way that you can picture the people living there and imagine Maggie cycling through the streets of Dublin. I loved Maggie and Daniel but also Michael, torn between his beliefs and his father and his best friend. He is such a rounded character and I admire him for following his conscience. What can I say? If you love (Irish) history and want to experience it almost true-to-life from the point of view of young people, if you are looking for a remarkable tale of perseverance and commitment, this is your book. I can highly recommend Through the Barricades (did you know the author’s daughter is the determined-looking beautiful woman on the cover?).

About the Author

Denise Deegan Author Image

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, won the SCBWI Spark Award 2016 AND 2017. Her writing for Young Adults includes the much-loved contemporary trilogy, The Butterfly Novels: And By The Way, And For Your Information and And Actually. Denise writes women’s fiction as Aimee Alexander including Pause to RewindThe Accidental Life of Greg Millar and All We Have Lost.

Book Info 

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 Paperback   372 pages
 Publisher   CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (2 Dec. 2016)
 Language   English
 ISBN-10  1540695662
 ISBN-13  978-1540695666
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