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Summary

Walking with Ghosts is the stunningly evocative memoir by Irish actor and Hollywood star Gabriel Byrne.

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 11 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 40-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.

©2020 Gabriel Byrne (P)2020 Recorded Books

Critic reviews

"Make no mistake about it: this 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, author of Let the Great World Spin)

"Dreamy, lyrical and utterly unvarnished." (Colm Tóibín)

What listeners say about Walking with Ghosts

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You must listen to this

This is the best Audible book I've ever listened to by far. It's wonderful the way Gabriel does the accents of all his characters, has a lyrical way of speaking, is a great storyteller (I now feel I have been to the street where grew up and met his neighbours). He is so refreshingly honest and I love him warts and all.

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Utterly brilliant

I remember Gabriel visiting our town many years ago ( the home town of his mother). He was so handsome, there was a sense of deep complexity and that intrigued me as I watched him move around shyly, obviously uncomfortable with the attention and glowing admiration of the people, all eyes firmly fixed on him. This beautiful book answers my intrigue to a large degree. There’s so much honesty, vulnerability, wit, compassion, love and awareness in this book. And he can write so wonderfully. I love this book a lot.

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Gabriel Byrne. wonderful

amazing! fantastic book . I had to stay up till the early hours so riveting

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Evocative

A warm, evocative and touching memoir of the places and people who formed one we are so proud to call our own. A richness and clarity that remains in the heart long after the last page has been turned. Thank you.

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Gorgeous Memoir

This is as poetic and as poignant a memoir as you will ever read, or even better, listen to. The near mystical evocations of life growing up in Ireland are heartbreaking in their intensity. You won't discover much about his current life but then again that's not the point. This is about the passing of time and examining the life of a 70 year old man reflected through the rear view mirror. Friends, family, places, characters and experiences are all recalled with love, affection and in some cases horror. I hated what the church did to him, loved his account of time spent on location with Burton, Richardson, Gielgud and Olivier and was overwhelmed by his memory of a meal with his late father. This is a simply stunning memoir. As Shelley said: 'Fear not for the future, weep not for the past'.

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one of the finest memoirs I've ever read

I could listen to him read the phone book. But this was a tremendous memoir, now funny, now affecting, always searingly honest. And by god the words - a prose poem to boot, in places.

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Loved It

Honest, entertaining and magnificently read by the author. An unexpected treat.
Can recommend as a memoir.

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A trip down memory lane

Loved it. Roughly my vintage and I'm from Dublin so lots resonated with me. What a tortured soul. I hope he's found peace and happiness now. Beautifully narrated.

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Exceptional read.

From the start your gripped with the honesty, funny way that Gabriel tells his story.
The Dublin sayings and quotes that we've all heard growing up is hilarious and I remember fondly my own mam saying them to us as kids.
Well worth the listen.

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Moving story of a life

I found this telling of Gabriel ‘s life extremely moving and at times very sad but his love for his family shines through. Ultimately a shy man who exposes his heart for us all.

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  • Vassilios Sourapas
  • 09-12-20

wonderful memoir.

The narration -performance by the writer gives another dimension to this wonderful, poetic and evocative memoir.

1 person found this helpful