Gabriel Byrne

Books Anna Stein, +1 212 556 5600 Email Anna Stein

Walking with Ghosts

book | Non-Fiction | Nov 2021
UK & Comm excluding Canada → Picador Books (Ed. Paul Baggaley)
US → Grove Press (Ed. Elizabeth Schmitz)

As a young boy growing up in the outskirts of Dublin, Gabriel Byrne sought refuge in a world of imagination among the fields and hills near his home, at the edge of a rapidly encroaching city. Born to working-class parents and the eldest of six children, he harboured a childhood desire to become a priest. When he was eleven years old, Byrne found himself crossing the Irish Sea to join a seminary in England. Four years later, Byrne had been expelled and he quickly returned to his native city. There he took odd jobs as a messenger boy and a factory labourer to get by. In his spare time he visited the cinema, where he could be alone and yet part of a crowd. It was here that he could begin to imagine a life beyond the grey world of ’60s Ireland.

He revelled in the theatre and poetry of Dublin’s streets, populated by characters as eccentric and remarkable as any in fiction, those who spin a yarn with acuity and wit. It was a friend who suggested Byrne join an amateur drama group, a decision that would change his life forever and launch him on an extraordinary forty-year career in film and theatre. Moving between sensual recollection of childhood in a now almost vanished Ireland and reflections on stardom in Hollywood and on Broadway, Byrne also courageously recounts his battle with addiction and the ambivalence of fame.

Walking with Ghosts is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking as well as a lyrical homage to the people and landscapes that ultimately shape our destinies.


Audio Rights


Film Rights


Claire Nozieres manages the translation rights for Walking with Ghosts

Translation Rights Sold

Locus Publishing Company
Sabine-Wespieser Editeur

“Gabriel Byrne has written the most beautiful memoir. This is haunting prose and wondrous, sad, uplifting, my book of the year.”

Claire Keegan, author of Foster and Small Things Like These

"Make no mistake about it: Walking with Ghosts is a masterpiece. A book that will wring out our tired hearts. It is by turns poetic, moving, and very funny. You will find it on the shelf alongside other great Irish memoirs including those by Frank McCourt, Nuala O'Faolain and Edna O’Brien.”

Colum McCann

 “Byrne captures elusive pieces of memory and in his hands transforms them into precious gems, flashes of gold in the night sky, a life that feels like time itself, one that has passed and one that remains.

Mariana Enriquez

"Mercurial, ferociously honest and moving. Byrne
pierces the cloak of celebrity and his shining prose leads us to an altogether more human place. A poignant symphony of memories and dreams, longing and loss,
in a search for the immigrants most elusive prize, home."

Karl Geary

The Wonder of this Memoir is its unembellished truth. It is written by a man whose amazing story is the stuff of Literature.”

Edna O'Brien

“The allure of Gabriel Byrne's memoir is that it persuasively humanizes what it is to be a big deal movie star.  Byrne is wonderfully without cant or bluster or phony humility.  Instead he leads with felicity, candor, humor and empathy.  In the end, he seems to be somebody you'd be glad to know." 

Richard Ford

"A joy of a book - full of heart and humour, beautifully told".

Sinead Gleeson

‘Affecting on many levels: a working-class family memoir as well as a meditation on fame and its discontents… The ghosts that stalk this poetic, but often starkly vivid, memoir… are as alive on the page as they are in [Byrne’s] consciousness.’


‘Dazzles with unflinching honesty’

Washington Post

Walking With Ghosts is lavish with lyricism, but presents a pretty unvarnished version of its author... The book is also a conscious departure: stylistically ambitious, purposefully (and successfully) so.’


‘Profoundly touching’

Irish Independent

‘Dreamy, lyrical and utterly unvarnished’

Colm Tóibín, Irish Times

‘In emotional, evocative prose, Walking With Ghosts
describes the town outside Dublin where [Byrne] grew up, the oldest of six children crammed into a small house, their father working as a barrel-maker for the Guinness brewery, everyone in each other’s business. They were steeped in Catholicism . . . In passages that are horrifying, then funny, then both, he describes, for instance, learning the story of Adam and Eve from a
fire-and-brimstone nun, in a lesson that ends with God declaring to the fallen pair: 'And by the way, your children will be miserable as well.' ('That’s why the world is such an unhappy place,' the nun adds.) . . . Can you go home
again? That is the tantalizing question raised by Walking With Ghosts.’

New York Times

‘A wry and warm, swirling poetic reverie of a memoir.’

Colin Barrett

‘A poetic journey into those secret realms of memory which dominate our lives, but are rarely spoken about. By revealing himself with such courage, compassion, and exquisite poise, Gabriel Byrne gives readers that rare gift of being able to see themselves in the feelings of another person. This book is more than a memoir--it's a mirror that reflects the deepest parts of us in exile.’

Simon Van Booy

‘Exquisite. This book feels like the culmination of a long literary career and not the debut of a famous actor. Byrne makes himself fully vulnerable while in total command of language and form. There is great truth and great beauty in this close examination of a life and the passage of time. I've never read a memoir so raw and honest and literary and absolutely, staggeringly brilliant.’

Lily King

This is a book about grief, loss, the secrets that we keep and the joys of creativity. It's also about dealing with addiction and the vertigo of fame. We always knew Gabriel Byrne was an astonishing actor but now we also know what an elegant, intelligent and dignified writer he is.

Mariana Enriquez

“In pared down prose both luminous and raw, Walking with Ghosts is about first things—parents, siblings, loves, heartbreaks, parts, failure, success, loss, but most of all it is a tender embrace of the past as Byrne discovers and accepts the truth of who he is in all his human struggle to be at peace with oneself and one’s imperfections. In a voice full of warmth, compassion, humor and wonder, Byrne steps into the role of writer with the same assurance, humility and intensity that he brings to his acting roles. More, this debut marks a welcome new voice that blends memory and imagination for an all-encompassing and wise memoir that reads like a novel.”  

Vanessa Manko

Anna Stein
+1 212 556 5600
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Lucy Luck
+44 (0) 20 7393 4221
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Translation Rights
Claire Nozieres
+44 (0)20 7393 4425
Email Claire Nozieres