A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry, was published in 2005. This outstanding novel interweaves Irish history along with telling us about the experiences of Irish men who signed on as soldiers in the British Army during World War I. Young Willie Dunne, an 18-year old Dubliner, is the central character, and we follow his path from youth and innocence, into the horrors of battle. It is a powerful novel and a terrific testament to the futility and destruction of war. Barry's beautiful writing and descriptive ability is absolutely tremendous.
Now Willie's lot were shunted back almost to the edge of the true world where there were quite peaceful-looking farms all frosted and beautiful under the moon, crisp and familiar as some stretch of Irish midlands under the struggling light of day. Even woods were impressively standing. The roads were all cobbled with mere fieldstones as you might find in a Wicklow yard, and they were rough ways to walk upon, in your hobnailed boots. But they marched the roads in three stages, and although they were weary from the stretch in the trenches, nevertheless they took some pride in their marching. Exhausted boys were carried by their pals, so as not to hinder the rate of progress. It was good to get the blood going round and it was better than sitting in trenches with the frost threatening fingers, toes and noses without cease. There was a timetable for everything and it pleased the men to make the distances on time.