The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne

RTÉ One, Sunday, January 17
10:30pm (30 mins)

Interview with Gabriel Byrne

What’s it all about? Why am I here? Is there a God? Why do bad things happen? What happens when we die? In this series, Gay Byrne talks to public figures about these questions and others. Like him, none of them is a religious expert, but all of them have, at times, had cause to think about The Meaning of Life [The webpage for this show no longer exists at the RTÉ website, effective October 2017].

Thanks to Lara for the first alert on this, and to Aragarna for the great picture below!

Added January 21: You will see many articles in the mainstream press and the blogosphere about this interview. May I suggest that you watch the interview? Some of the information being reported in these articles is less than accurate. The interview is the important thing!

Gabriel Byrne appears on The Meaning of Life, January 17, 2010 Gabriel Byrne appears on The Meaning of Life, January 17, 2010


  1. I’m sorry to deflate everyone, but I don’t think Mad Handsome is in this show. Gay Byrne and Gabriel Byrne are not the same people, as the pic indicates and the link to the site doesn’t mention Mad Handsome as a guest.

    However, I read Gay’s editorials on occasion and he seems like awonderful person; a real straight-shooter.

    Believe me, I’m disappointed too. I was already working out that I would miss this (even if I could get it live) because I am having a lamb roast at my girlfriend’s place that night!

    Luv Yall, TM

  2. Twomoons, our Gabriel Byrne is certainly in this show, the presenter (Gay Byrne, pictured right on the picture next to Gabriel) has confirmed it himself back in December, when he met Gabe and interviewed him for this episode which will now be broadcast on Sunday. The name of the show is “The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne” AND his guests :-)

  3. Gay Byrne on 13th December in the Independent:

    “As I write, I’m out the door to go interview the other Gabriel Byrne for one of our Meaning of Life TV series to hit the air in January. Don’t I have the life ?”

  4. I added another link to the program listing. It does not say that GB will be interviewed on January 17, but the new series starts that night, so we will find out soon enough!

  5. former shows are still online so even if we miss the original airing, we should be able to catch it up on the site (for those who don’t have problems with rté vids)

  6. I hope it will be possible to hear the interview with Gabriel on Internet. I am sure Gabriel have many interesting thoughts about this subject.

  7. Well, that scheduling is for WEEK 3 (through January 16 – 22) and the only Sunday in this period is the 17th. And we know for sure Gay Byrne interviewed Gabriel Byrne for The Meaning of Life show and that the episode airs in January. And if you check peak time scheduling for Week 4, there is no TMOL episode listed. I’m pretty sure GB will be on the 17th Jan episode. :) This scheduling is from RTE’s sales department and prepared for advertisers, so we can expect the show to appear also in the regular TV guide.

  8. My brain aches tyring to make sense of it all. “The Meaning Of Life”? Does this not mean that Gabriel Byrne is to star in a remake of the 1983 Monty Python classic, alongside John Cleese and Michael Palin?

    I had Gabriel pegged for the part of ‘Fish Number One’, and many of the other roles previously played by the late great Graham Chapman.

    Mr. Byrne’s publicist is unavailable for comment, being deep in negotiations with UK production company Channel Four about his potentially starring in a big-screen remake of “Father Ted.”

    There: Is everyone else as confused as I am now? :-D

  9. Lara et al:

    I do remember the Independant mentioning that and I REALLY hope you are REALLY correct! I await the link!

  10. Here:

    Sunday 17 January
    RTE One
    22:30 The Meaning of Life, with Gay Byrne

    New series. Presenter Gay Byrne interviews actor Gabriel Byrne, who has become famous for his roles in The Usual Suspects and In Treatment. He talks candidly about his struggles with alcoholism and depression, and discusses his experiences as a child in an English seminary. He also reveals why he frequently thinks about death.

    you can find this listing at

  11. Gabriel to reveal all with namesake Gay
    Wednesday January 13 2010

    Actor Gabriel Byrne will be discussing many of his life experience’s with Gay Byrne in a TV interview.

    RTE legend Gay Byrne will shortly be grilling his namesake Gabriel Byrne on all of the thorny issues in the actor’s interesting life.

    The broadcasting star has scored a surprise hit with his religious show The Meaning of Life and he has been getting the low-down on the spiritual beliefs of some of our biggest celebrities, including singer Sinead O’Connor and actor Colin Farrell.

    This Sunday, it’s the turn of award-winning Usual Suspects star Gabriel, who will be dishing the dirt to his old pal during the hour-long programme.

    No stranger to ecumenical matters, the actor will be revealing all about his decision to enter a British seminary aged 11, his experiences of clerical sexual abuse and his reasons for giving up on the idea of the priesthood.

    In the frank interview, he will also be telling all about his struggle with alcohol and depression, and the reason why he thinks so much about death.

    Gabriel will also be speaking out about the two main women in his life, namely Hollywood bombshell and former wife Ellen Barkin and the late Aine O’Connor.

    Long-term acquaintances, himself and Gay’s friendship goes back a long way and the actor was one of the big-name stars who flew in from LA to appear on the host’s last ever Late Late Show programme in 1999.

    Gabriel also has much in common with the RTE veteran, given that they were both sons of Guinness workers and both were educated by the Christian Brothers.

  12. twitching, just twitching here!

  13. Lads and Lassies. The programme on this sunday night 17th jan definately is the one in which Gabriel is interviewed. It has been advertised the last two days on RTE Television here in Ireland, and showed us little snipits. Kick off 10.30…. Enjoy…..

  14. Thank you Karen! Very much looking forward to it, and now I realise it is a televised interview and not a radio one, I need to go and sort out some information I have erroneously given to some friends of mine in Europe.

    I really, really must learn to pay better attention :-D

  15. Please follow this link to watch the show live:

  16. I saw the program live. It was interesting, and I admire Gabriel very much for his honesty.

  17. Link to the show is up on the RTE site:

  18. Oh thank you so much, Ellen!! I’ll post this on the homepage now for everyone.

  19. Well, he looked great; the loose tie fans will me happy!! But I am disappointed. For those of us who follow his every move, most of this interview is the same stuff we have heard over and over. For me, there wasn’t enough ‘meat on the bone’. Gay Byrne’s approach was too ho-hum. I expected them to get past all the stuff that everyone has already asked Gabriel over the years, and to have a true, intellectual discussion on “the meaning of life”. Unfortunately, that did not happen in the interview. Wonderful close up shots though..disappointed in Canada….

  20. Gabriel sounded so much like Paul Weston(in conversation with Gina) in this interview. So human,vulnerable so incredibly unassuming.

  21. Windhover

    Lozzie> I had Gabriel pegged for the part of ‘Fish Number One’, and many of the other roles previously played by the late great Graham Chapman.

    Perfect!! It’s laugh enough to recall the fish sequence: imagining Gabriel as one of them is toooo good. And I do miss Graham Chapman. What a treat it would have been if he had lived and worked in an ensemble comedy (like ASTB?) with MH.

    And I agree with twomoons: always nice to see and hear Gabriel hold forth, but it was slim pickings for the cognoscenti.

  22. I guess Gay Byrne’s programme is aimed at a wider, more general audience and I always imagine Gabriel Byrne to be so modest as to not imagine there are hordes of us out here hanging upon his every word. Bless his red cotton socks.

    But (shallow moment coming up, you have been warned) did he not look just absolutely FINE?

  23. I totaly agree with twomoons. Same old questions same answers of course. Not Gabriels fault I’m sure he’d love to talk about something else other than the christian brothers for a change. He was in Ireland a good few times this year. And no interviewer had anything new to ask. It might sound silly but I’d love to know more about his normal everyday life. Or maybe he wouldnt like to tell the world that. Gay Byrne did not do a good job of this interview. Very rushed half hour was not enough. BUT LOZZIES RIGHT.He did look fine.

  24. Gretchen Paules

    The Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation is a newly formed nonprofit with a mission to help heal and support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse worldwide. We are actively seeking adult survivors who would be willing to post a childhood photo and caption, their story, or their creative expressions to our website By uniting survivors from across the globe we can help provide a stronger and more powerful voice to those survivors who have not yet found the courage to speak out. Together we can; together we should; together we NEED to stand up and be counted. Please visit our site for more details on how you can send us your submissions.

    Thank you for everything you do!

    Gretchen Paules
    Administrative Director
    Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation
    111 Presidential Blvd., Suite 212
    Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

  25. Please note Ms. Paules’ comment above. I do not personally know anything about this new non-profit organization, but I wanted to share her comments in case someone might benefit.

    Every time GB is a “witness” to what happened to him, he may be saying the words we know well to someone who has never heard them and who may not know him. And who may be touched in a way that will help.


  26. Good point Stella.

  27. At the end Gay asked so many questions I have wanted to ask Gabe. The problem is of course the same question do get asked of him over and over, but he did give some new insight into his relationships and his feelings. I thought it was great to just see another interview. I can’t wait to meet him!

  28. Sam, I have to say that I spent time today to watch this again. (Very frustrating that it is only available until Feb 7th) I enjoyed it much more the second time around, for exactly the reasons you mentioned: although much of it was the same old or already known to his cognoscenti (I love that word!), there was new insight into his relationships and death and spirituality. His comments were always sensitive, diplomatic and carefully stated. He said something very, very profound, that I know from experience is absolutely true:

    “The more we are aware of death paradoxically, the better the life we can live.” This is a deeply insightful statement, and one that I encourage everyone to spend time alone, in a quiet room, with your eyes closed, meditating about, and not just once; you will change how you think and act in all parts of your life.

  29. Oh, my God, somebody can download the video? I’ve tried with some programs…No results :(

  30. it’s on youtube in 3 parts. youtube vids are easily downloadable.


    They also write about this in Der Spiegel.

  32. sweetbud

    Watched the show again yesterday. He is so thoughtful (understatement) and open in the moment. Would have wished Gay had gone deeper.

    The,em, shot to the heart, so MANY of us know exactly what he is speaking of!

  33. iamyuneek

    What a great interview,felt really intimate with him talking about religion with his kids..will watch it a couple more times before it the full screen version, just like he’s in the room with me hee hee

  34. Hi Everyone!

    please please please

    I am desperatly looking for this interview on the Internet …

    Who is able to send me an updated link or a private file ??

    Thanks so much

    Sara (a huge fan)

    • Hi, Saraluna.

      The YouTube videos have been deleted and we do not have the files.

      I am checking with some sources to see if we can get these again.

      I’ll keep everyone posted! :-)

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