Ireland’s War of Independence. United friends ... divided loyalties

Brian Gallagher

As the War of Independence grows more lethal, the three friends must decide where their loyalties lie. Then a secret from Johnny’s past changes everything…

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256 pages
196x130 mm

Also available as an Electronic Book (ePub)


Orphan Johnny Dunne has fled Balbriggan, where he spied for the rebels in Ireland’s War of Independence. Now he has a new and even more dangerous mission. Rebel leader Michael Collins engages in a cut-throat secret war with British Intelligence: and Johnny, Ireland's youngest spy at only fourteen years of age, finds himself at the centre of the action. In a Dublin full of gunmen, soldiers, police informers and the dreaded Black and Tans, Johnny has to watch his every move.

But it’s hard to turn his back on the past, especially on his friendships with Alice Goodman, and with Stella Radcliffe, the daughter of a British officer, who risked her own life to save his.

As the War of Independence grows more lethal, the three friends must decide where their loyalties lie. Then a secret from Johnny’s past changes everything…

BRIAN GALLAGHER was born in Dublin. He is a full-time writer whose plays and short stories have been produced in Ireland, Britain and Canada. He has worked extensively in radio and television, writing many dramas and documentaries.

Brian is the author of four adult novels, and his other books of historical fiction for young readers are One Good Turn and Friend or Foe – both set in Dublin in 1916; Stormclouds, which takes place in Northern Ireland during the turbulent summer of 1969; Secrets and Shadows, a spy novel that begins with the North Strand bombings during the Second World War; Taking Sides, about the Irish Civil War; Across the Divide, set during the 1913 Lockout, Arrivals, a time-slip novel set between modern and early-twentieth-century Ontario, and Pawns, set during Ireland’s War of Independence. Brian lives with his family in Dublin. His latest book, Spies, is a sequel to Pawns.

Find out more about Brian's books at briangallagherwriter.com 

the strands of family and friendships are excellently interwoven with the fragile and fractious fault lines in pre-freedom Ireland

Irish Examiner

a historical fiction that immerses the reader into an Ireland full of Black and Tans, soldiers, rebels, and police informers. Ireland’s War of Independence is portrayed from both sides and this book could be a fantastic resource to discuss and debate the dilemmas faced in the throes of war. Its rich vocabulary, unravelling plot and teen friendships would make a fine class novel for 11-12 year olds/sixth class

InTouch Magazine

A thriller of a read from first page to last ... a very highly recommended novel for young readers ages 9 to 14 … especially recommended for school and community library General Fiction collections’


a strong fictional plot with friendship and loyalty, Dublin author Gallagher succeeds in engaging readers aged 10+ in the story of a turbulent part of Irish history. It’s a method he employed before to bring to life for young readers the events of the Easter Rising in Friend or Foe, the Civil War in Taking Sides and the 1913 Dublin Lockout in Across the Divide … by writing Spies as a sequel, Gallagher is able to build on the relationships formed in Pawns, allowing space for a compelling subplot to emerge around Johnny’s orphanage past

Evening Echo

The things I liked about Spies were that the writing style was original and captivating – you really felt like you were in the room with the characters! Sometimes I struggle to get into books that are set in the past. Most of my favourite books are contemporary but I had no problem with this book because it was a gripping page-turner. Overall I thought this book was really good. Not only was it an excellent story but I also learned a lot about the War of Independence even though it never felt like I was reading history school book! www.seomraranga.com/2018/08/book-review-spies/ 

Seomra Ranga
Oisín, Rang V, Scoil Iognáid, Co. na Gaillimhe
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Teaching Resources: free to view and download

  • pdf-logoDownload Teaching Guides: Teaching guide to the book by Nicola Heaney

Other books by this author
  • Across the Divide
  • Taking Sides
  • Secrets and Shadows
  • Stormclouds

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