Just look at that header image, would you? Barry Cronin, Irish photographer extraordinaire, has provided us with lots of shots of Gabriel Byrne during his visit home, but this one? This one says it all, doesn’t it?

The reviews are in for Gabriel’s sold-out theatrical version of his hit book, Walking With Ghosts. I sound like his publicist there, don’t I? Well, it’s all true. His memoir is a big success and he did perform to packed seats at the Gaiety Theatre. Dubliners and those lucky enough to travel from afar to experience this unique event gave him the Standing O every night and tweeted their fingers off in praise, wonder, and acclaim. Reviewers? Mostly the same, although you will always find critics trying to be critical. I guess they think that’s what they are paid to be, warranted or not.

Have no fear, though. The reviews are all pretty much on the glowing side. These folks cannot hold a candle to the honest, heartfelt, and thankful reviews of the people who spilled out of the theater after each performance, though. They were touched beyond measure.

Rare, that. Very rare. And wonderful. Congratulations, Mr. Byrne. You came home wondering if it might still BE home and, as it turns out, it IS. Without doubt or question. You love Dublin and Dublin loves you.

Nice way to start off the New Year, isn’t it!? heart

Gabriel Byrne casts his hand prints for the storied bronze collection at the Gaiety Theatre
Photo by Barry Cronin

The Reviews

The Irish Times/Chris McCormack

Walking with Ghosts: Gabriel Byrne looks at the strange boy in the mirror
Actor’s adaptation of his memoir explores painful memories with serious eloquence

“All autobiographies are lies,” wrote Gerorge Bernard Shaw, who viewed the stakes as too high for someone to write truthfully about their own life. For the sake of posterity the line between fact and fiction will inevitably blur, and the obligation to accuracy will vanish.

The most conspicuous genre may be the Hollywood memoir, a field that, historically, has spun dazzling lies from one-sided recollections, feeding on eccentricity rather than veracity. Some might expect this to be the strut of Gabriel Byrne’s memoir Walking with Ghosts – Byrne was a movie star at a time when Ireland didn’t have those – but there isn’t much that counts as industry gossip or A-list cameos. Adapted as a solo play for Landmark Productions and Lavano, Walking with Ghosts explores painful memories with a serious eloquence, like a cathartic search for healing.

When a schoolteacher once admonished him for admiring his reflection in a mirror, Byrne explains how he was searching deeper. “I was looking at the face of a strange boy who might not be real,” he says. This may seem to be a rewinding of a personal history but in the actor’s impressive portraiture, the composition extends wider becoming a fixating picture of mid-century Dublin . . .

Gabriel Byrne promotional image by Ros Kavanagh, 2022

The Sunday Times UK/Fiona Charleton

Walking With Ghosts theatre review — nowhere to hide from the ghosts of his past
This is one of Ireland’s finest performers at his very best

News flash: the actor Gabriel Byrne is the real deal. His self-penned one-man show, Walking with Ghosts, confirms this: that the Walkinstown native, who started off as that dirty-looking article Pat Barry in The Riordans and went on to conquer Hollywood, is a master of his craft.

Directed by Lonny Price, Byrne has nowhere to hide during this 2 hr 30 min long Landmark/Lovano production based on his 2020 memoir. His is the only voice we hear: but with the presence that made him RTE’s first heartthrob, he draws us in, populating the stage with ghosts from his past.

The production opens with Byrne in wistful mode. “In memory and in my dreams,” he intones, “it’s always summer on this hill.” All very poetic, but the strength of this play lies in Byrne’s gift of observation, and it takes off when he ditches his earnest persona and morphs into the characters of his youth with unerring accents and gestures, and with authentic Dublin banter. He recalls blushing so badly as a shy boy that a girl said to him, “Here, gimme me a light of my cigarette off your face!”

. . . Byrne’s understated delivery becomes more relaxed and, at times, feels like ad-libbing. He’s probably not. He’s just one of our finest performers doing what he does best. A remarkably entertaining evening of Dublin wit. Maureen Potter herself would be proud.

Financial Times/Max McGuinness

Gabriel Byrne is captivating in one-man show Walking with Ghosts
The actor returns to the Dublin stage with stories from his life and his hometown

Gabriel Byrne has spent much of his life away from Dublin. But, echoing James Joyce, that absence has only reinforced the veteran actor’s fixation with his hometown. In this one-man show, adapted from his 2020 memoir, Byrne returns to the Dublin stage for the first time in four decades and takes us on an episodic stroll around the scruffy, eccentric city of his youth. He also recounts his experience of sexual abuse and alcoholism with poignant understatement and candour . . .

Gabriel Byrne promotional image by Ros Kavanagh, 2022

Independent.ie/Katy Hayes

Gabriel Byrne throws away his masks to bring memoir to theatrical life

Gabriel Byrne commands the stage in this tour-de-force performance which is part self-exposé and part a history of growing up in working-class 1950s Dublin. Produced by Landmark Productions and Lovano, Byrne’s 2020 literary memoir here comes to vivid theatrical life.

The show starts in a low key. Byrne talks gently to the audience, tells them stories about his childhood, his schooling, his father’s job in the Guinness brewery. The shocking death of a school pal in a drowning accident. He visits the cinema with his grandmother. There is a trip to Clerys to buy his first Holy Communion outfit, with his mother pretending to be “la di da” at tea in the Shelbourne. There is a certain sentimental tinge to proceedings. But by the end of Act 1, a brief stint in a junior seminary where he is sexually abused by a priest blows the sepia tint right off . . .

The show reaches its apotheosis in a section about his alcoholism. At this point, Byrne sits on the front of the stage, talking directly to the audience. It is a moment of pure theatrical intimacy, enhanced greatly by the old-school tiered auditorium of the Gaiety Theatre.

Directed by Lonny Price, the pacing and build-up of Byrne’s performance is perfect; the early generation of trust blossoms into a torrent of empathy by the end . . .

Gabriel Byrne is a hugely successful international acting talent whose job requires him to pretend to be other people. But there is a sense that the lonely, self-conscious boy of Act 1 has a compelling alternative creative need: to be in a Dublin theatre and tell the truth about himself. This is a deeply affecting glimpse behind the mask of the actor.

Hot Press/Stuart Clark

President Michael D. Higgins among those attending the triumphant premiere of Gabriel Byrne’s Walking With Ghosts

The Gaiety was treated to a masterclass in storytelling by the Walkinstown actor who was back on the Dublin stage for the first time in 43 years!

President Michael D. Higgins, his wife Sabina Higgins, Ministers Eamonn Ryan and Catherine Martin, Aidan Gillen, Mary Coughlan, Brendan Gleeson, Brenda Fricker, Jerry Fish, Liz Nugent, Anne Enright and Deirdre O’Kane were among those in the Gaiety Theatre last night for the premiere of Gabriel Byrne’s autobiographical one man show, Walking With Ghosts.

It was the first time the Walkinstown actor had performed in the Gaiety – or indeed any Irish theatre – since he lined up alongside the likes of Niall Tobin, Jim Sheridan, Cathyrn Brennan and Mick Lally in Frank McMahon’s 1978 adaptation of Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan, a sock-less version of whom features in one of the show’s monologues about the Dublin ‘characters’ of yore.

An abridged version of his 2021 memoir of the same name, the two-hour production leans more towards family than celebrity, with Byrne lovingly mimicking his mother, father and sister Marian who died in her thirties, a tragedy that had him howling in pain and grief until he was literally hoarse.

Like Leonard Cohen before him, the 71-year-old is adept at finding the crack of light in the darkness, with a barrage of one-liners – many of them from the 1,001 Jokes book he used to ease his social anxiety as a kid – and visual gags that any stand-up would be proud of . . .

Gabriel Byrne promotional image by Ros Kavanagh, 2022

The Guardian/Chris Wiegand

Walking With Ghosts review – Gabriel Byrne’s trip down Dublin’s memory lanes
The actor adapts his impressionistic memoir for the stage, giving life to the characters he observed as a boy in the ‘theatre of the street’

That blend of curiosity and confusion is a constant. Was this really me, Byrne seems to ask. Are these memories mine? There are other constants throughout his life: shame, isolation, worthlessness but also a benevolence that even sees him pity, while not forgive, the priest who abused him as a child when he tracks him down in later life.

Byrne finds a sense of belonging – after stints as a plumber and a dishwasher – through the theatre, depicting the warmth while also puncturing the pomposity he encounters in his first forays into am-dram. The memoir recounted his first romances but the grand passion in this stage version is, fittingly, for acting itself. As he recreates his first cinema trip with his grandmother, we see laughter, fear and above all bliss spread across his face and he is a child again.

Buzz.ie/Aoife Moriarty

Walking with Ghosts: Gabriel Byrne’s one-man show is a privilege to watch

It’s hard to know what to expect from a one-man show based on a bestselling memoir. But as soon as Hollywood legend Gabriel Byrne speaks to his audience in Walking with Ghosts, you can tell you’re in extremely capable hands.

Last night saw the great and the good of Dublin turn out for the world premiere of the new show at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre, more than 40 years since the actor last stood on an Irish stage.

It’s a wonder just to see Byrne sitting there, regaling a live audience with entertaining and poetic fragments of a life that started right here, in Dublin.

Early on, there is a sense of total assurance in him as a performer, as well as a certain awe that hangs over this homecoming.

It’s the knowledge that he’s one of us, and now he’s made it back to tell the tale in a full circle moment.

Gabriel Byrne promotional image by Ros Kavanagh, 2022

Irish Daily Mail

The ghosts of Gabriel’s past are haunting

ALL THE talk this week has been of Walking With Ghosts, Gabriel Byrne’s one man show, a stage production created from his memoirs currently at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre.

And with good reason too — Byrne has been delivering mesmerising performances at the venue since Saturday.

Walking With Ghosts such a compelling piece of work from a Hollywood star who is decidedly unstarry.

For over two hours Byrne holds the audience in the palm of his hand, with few frills or props, just one of our most talented stars bringing to life the people whose memory haunts him but also a spectre of Dublin and Irish life that no longer exists.

In some cases this is no bad thing as, chameleon-like, Byrne transforms from a 71-year-old to a young child, heading for his first day at school from the safety of his mother into the grip of the religious schooling that would ultimately see him travel to Wales to join the seminary.

There is light and shade in the performance where we see how life’s cruelty can erode the innocence of youth but how beautiful that innocence is.

The Hand Prints

I love it: “Marking this special occasion of taking a cast of Gabriel Byrne’s hands, to have them immortalised in Bronze on the streets of Dublin forevermore.” heart

From the Gaiety Theatre Facebook Page:

Caroline Downey, owner of the Gaiety Theatre said, “Over its 150 years, the Gaiety Theatre has played host to world-class artists and performers and each performance is embedded forever in the fabric of this incredibly beautiful building. It feels important – now more than ever – to celebrate these people, who contribute so much to the culture of our society. We are incredibly fortunate that Gabriel Byrne has been an ambassador for the Arts in Ireland all over the world throughout his career. His handprints join those of a former co-star Niall Toibin, when he last performed on an Irish stage at the Gaiety 44 years ago in a production of Borstal Boy. We are extremely proud to immortalise his handprints in bronze as a symbol of the influence of his work on stage, screen and literature.”

2 Comments

  1. Stunning reviews ! Congratulations Gabriel Byrne for your talent and your personal courage in bringing this project to the stage. Bravo!

  2. Wonderful to read rhe reviews. He is so multi talented. I am very happy for him, coming home to visit Dublin like this!

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