Here you will find a selection of the “Gabriel Byrne talking about his newly-published memoir Walking With Ghosts” interviews and some book reviews. There are more to come, no doubt. His new book is a hit and people are talking about it. A lot!
Critic John Maguire notes:
This link will lead you to John Maguire’s lovely interview with Gabriel from 2009, when he was in Dingle to receive the inaugural Gregory Peck Award. It is always a very fun read and is actually a good way to get started with this round of interviews centering on Gabriel’s new book.
Television and Radio Interviews
Gabriel Byrne joins Richard Coles and Nikki Bedi. The Award-winning actor made his acting debut as a shepherd in a Nativity play and since then has made over 80 films, won a Golden Globe for In Treatment and had a successful stage career. He talks about growing up in Ireland, wanting to be a priest, turning his life around and loving a simple life.
The Verb on ‘green’ memoir – with the actor and writer Gabriel Byrne, and the poets Elizabeth-Jane Burnett and Pascale Petit. What would our stories sound like if we told them through our relationships with the plants, animals and landscapes that are most dear to us? What happens when we start to see the natural world as an integral part of our own histories?
Gabriel Byrne is an award-winning actor and writer. His new memoir ‘Walking with Ghosts’ starts emphatically and lyrically with the landscape of his childhood home in Ireland and the great pleasure he took in it as a child. Gabriel also talks about his relationship with the earth – the experience of feeling the ground shift during an earthquake in Los Angeles and about the ‘photograph he carries in his heart’ – a memory of a ploughman working the land.
Gabriel Byrne: ‘Dublin prepared me for Hollywood. I was ready for the bulls**t’, by Donald Clarke for The Irish Times
Why has it taken him so long to write this down? Why now? Did that looming 70th birthday nudge him towards the keyboard?
“I don’t think it has anything to do with reaching ‘a certain age’,” he says. “I was curious to look back at an Ireland that is now changing so rapidly. I wondered if the world I was brought up in is as distant to this generation as the Victorians were to us. Yet the Victorian age did eke into our generation. What formed me? What were the influences? If some of those influences had not been in place it is possible I may not have become the person I am today.”
Born in Walkinstown to a working-class Catholic family, Byrne took a tangled path towards the acting profession. As a teenager, he somehow found himself training for the priesthood at a seminary in Worcestershire. When that didn’t work out, he drifted home and ended up studying archaeology and linguistics at UCD. If things had been different, he might have become an academic. He certainly has the brains for it. But he taught for a while at a secondary school and then stumbled towards acting.
There is amusing material in Walking with Ghosts about his first encounter with fame. Anybody old enough to remember The Riordans, RTÉ’s hugely popular rural soap, will appreciate how his life must have changed when he was cast as dishy Pat Barry.
“The fame of The Riordans was as intense and crazy as anything I experienced,” he says. “It was like having a number-one hit single in your 20s. I may have been the first home-grown drama star. I remember getting off at the wrong stop in Galway during the depths of winter. Pitch dark. I see a light in a house and I knock on the door. This woman opens the door. ‘Divine God almighty! Look who it is!’ They brought me in and, no joke, I was on the television.”
Note: There are many more interviews which will be captured and presented on the Interviews Page in the near future.
Walking with Ghosts: Gabriel Byrne delivers profound reflection on mortality and memories, by Mia Colleran for Independent.ie
Some celebrity memoirs have a penchant to exclude the reader, “here is my dazzling career” they seem to say, but Walking With Ghosts is nothing of the sort. Its tone is “here is my life, make of it what you will”. Byrne arrives at a truth greater than an honest and sensitive memoir; he verges on a profoundly touching articulation of our short time on earth, time that will make of each of us nothing more or less than a ghost.
Gabriel Byrne’s powerful memoir tells of Ghosts of his life with dark humour, by Eoghan Harris for Independent.ie
We know from The Late Late Show that Byrne tells a good anecdote. But here they become something greater. There is always a point to a Byrne anecdote. But the point is never to build Byrne up at someone else’s expense but to show their subjects at their best.
In one hilariously redemptive story, he recounts meeting Laurence Olivier in a corridor, and unable to think of anything to say, asks the famous actor for the time. Not surprisingly Olivier brushed him off, but hours later he made amends with a gracious note and good advice.
In sum, this memoir shows Byrne’s youthful shyness has lightened into a laconic self-deprecation, that his revulsion against cruelty is still a ruling passion, and that his dark humour is always to hand. But there is always a sense of time past, time lost. We feel it most when he’s writing about the heroine of his memoir. But those hoping for romantic revelations will search in vain.
Because the woman who mattered most in Gabriel Byrne’s life was his mother, Eileen Gannon, for whom this whole book is an elegy, as it is an elegy for all Irish women of her generation, who never fulfilled their potential.
Byrne blames the Catholic church for their social and creative repression. Yet he is merciful to the Church’s individual sinners. One day, he tracks down and calls up the priest who abused him at boarding school with retribution in mind. Finding himself talking to a forgetful old man, he puts the phone down.
Byrne doesn’t do the politically correct thing by ‘forgiving’ the priest. He lets that empty life end as it will. Despite his role as a therapist in the television series In Treatment, Byrne is less a Freudian than a Byrneian – someone who has learned a lot about human nature from his own life.
His rejection of revenge on the priest is almost as moving as his harrowing account of the death of his mother. The priest didn’t get the harsh justice he deserved. His mother did not get the good life she deserved.
What makes Gabriel Byrne a great writer is that he knows that whether we are wicked or good, few of us get what we deserve.
There are more interviews and reviews already, and there will certainly be more in the future. Gabriel’s new book has been received with much acclaim, praise, and enthusiasm. He has been commended for his willingness to share his story, tell the truth, and lead us back to the Ireland he remembers so well. I am sure Byrneholics Everywhere who read this book will cherish it, as I know I do already, and I’ve not even read it yet!
Congratulations, Gabriel, on your achievement, and thank you for making this book a reality. If you listen, you can hear us cheering you on! heart