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Novelist & Writer

My Work

Novels & Other Writing

Soldiers Return TPB_edited.jpg


Dublin, 1914. As Ireland stands on the brink of political crisis, Europe plunges headlong into war. Among the thousands of Irishmen who volunteer to fight for the British Army is Stephen Ryan, a gifted young maths scholar whose working class background has marked him out as a misfit among his wealthy fellow students.

Sent to fight in Turkey, he looks forward to the great adventure, unaware of the growing unrest back home in Ireland.

But his romantic notions of war are soon shattered on the rocky shores of Gallipoli and

he is forced to wonder where his loyalty lies when he returns home in 1916 to find Dublin in the grip of rebellion and his own brother fighting against the Government. Everything has changed utterly, and in a world gone mad his only hope is his growing friendship with the brilliant and enigmatic Lillian Bryce.

But even this is sorely tested as he is thrust into the deadly grind of the Ypres salient where, despite his outstanding abilities, the unending horrors of the war take their inevitable toll.

Reeling from the harsh reality of everyday death in the frozen trenches to the savagery of the war underground, the nervous strain threatens to blot out everything, even love, and as he struggles to come to terms with his own identity and allegiances, he finds himself pushed to the breaking point.


Battered and broken by three years of fighting, Stephen Ryan returns to Ireland – to the woman he loves, and hoping for the chance to return to his old life. But he finds himself floundering and compelled to return to the front, where at least he knew where his loyalties lay. 


As the First World War enters its final bloody months, the seeds of a new sort of conflict are being sown in Dublin, with the emergence of Sinn Fein. Civil unrest and political dissonance are rife, as nationalists challenge a war in which Irish men are fighting for an English king – and Stephen’s own brother Joe is one of those prepared to fight for independence.


When Stephen is asked by his military superiors to spy on Sinn Fein meetings and act as an informer, he realizes that his allegiances are conflicted. Not quite knowing who he can trust, and with the lines between duty and murder becoming increasingly blurred, he is dragged into a complex web of deceit and violence. Stephen must think fast, as everything that he holds dear is threatened – this new Ireland has new, unpredictable rules.


Dublin, 1921. The Irish War of Independence comes to a head, in a conflict that will pit Irishman against Irishman, brother against brother . . .

Stephen Ryan, an Irishman who fought for the British in the trenches, is sent to London where negotiations are beginning. He leaves behind his brother, Joe, who has been jailed for his actions in the IRA. There are those on both sides who would see the Treaty fail and Stephen soon finds himself beset by problems – a legal dispute, a blackmail attempt, even a plot to assassinate Winston Churchill.

This is a story about two brothers, played out against the political and military upheavals that racked Ireland in the 1920s. The Anglo–Irish Treaty brings the war with the British to a close, but a new war is emerging and Stephen finds himself once more called upon as a soldier. Assassinations and guerrilla warfare are the backdrop to the call to arms, as both sides attempt to force a new order.

'Monaghan is an engaging writer - he won the 2002 Hennessy New Irish Writing award for the short story upon which The Soldier's Song is based - and this is a well paced and immensely readable novel.'

The Irish Times

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