This excerpt from Gabriel Byrne’s memoir, Walking With Ghosts, is brought to us by Literary Hub.

Below is the beginning. Click the link above to read the entire piece. It is fairly long and it is free to read.

And it’s also one of the most touching and bracingly frank sections of a very touching and honest book. You get a good sense of Gabriel’s story from this excerpt, so read on!

Wallpaper by Stella

Gabriel Byrne on Struggling With Authenticity in the Wake of Fatherly Expectation

“To be on the scrap heap was to be shamed. A man worked.”

By Gabriel Byrne, February 10, 2021

I begin to apply my makeup. My mask. Our tragedy, O’Neill said, is that we are haunted not just by the masks others wear but by the masks we wear ourselves. We all act all the time. Life makes us necessary deceivers. Except maybe when we are alone. As I am now in the windowless dressing room of a Broadway theater.

I struggle with authenticity. Being truthful. Both to myself first and to other people. Is it possible to be completely honest with myself? To admit my fears, my demons, prejudices, the petty envies, the unfulfilled desires? I want to live an authentic life. To take off the mask requires courage. I admit my fragility, my vulnerability and weakness. Why are we so afraid to let others see us as we truly are? Can you ever really know another human being? There is a locked room which we ourselves dare not enter for fear. Fear of what exactly I don’t know. Maybe that is one of the necessities of fiction. It allows us to experience the hidden depths of ourselves and to acknowledge that we are all made of the same human stuff.

I am by nature an introvert. For a long time I was ashamed of this. As if it were somehow a moral failing. I never felt I belonged anywhere. Was always trying to be as real as I could. Seeking authenticity. But paralyzed by my mask and the masks of others. I can be sociable too. But it drains me of energy and I have to find refuge in solitude again. I have few friends. That also used to mortify me. Aren’t you supposed to have huge parties where scores of successful witty people surround you?

No one else can play the part of me.

–You can’t trust actors, a producer said to me once, half-jokingly, because they are always pretending. They lie.

–No, I replied, our job is to try to tell the truth. We are the channels through which the truth comes. There is no play without the actor, no actor without the words.

I look into the mirror. My father’s face looks back at me. I see him dipping his cut-throat in the rainwater barrel, shaving in the cracked mirror which divides his face in two.

Read the rest at Literary Hub. It’s so lovely that they provided this for us. heart

And don’t forget the two events in Gabriel’s Virtual Book Tour this month!


  1. Verónica

    For me it is not a news Gabriel is introvert. Normally shy people is. The great thing is, that when he acts, he can completely hide his real personality, to give life to his character, who can be the opposite of what he really is. There are very few people who don’t wear a mask and who don’t have it and show their really face, to people don’t like it. People don’t like sincere people, they prefer the falsehood, it fits better.
    I think this book will like me very much. I haven’t it yet, but I will someday. Have to WAIT :-)

  2. Doing what he does has to be hard. I’ve always looked at actors as playing dress up and not seeing the real world. The more I find out things about Gabriel and his world he amazes me. How many of lifes ups and downs we have in common. I applaud how he handles an admits things and being a celebrity that has to be difficult.

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