Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Walking with Ghosts

by Gabriel Byrne

A highly anticipated memoir by Gabriel Byrne, the award-winning star of over 80 films, Walking with Ghosts is an exquisite portrait of an Irish childhood and a remarkable journey to Hollywood and Broadway success

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 224
  • Publication Date January 11, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5713-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 208
  • Publication Date January 12, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5712-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date January 12, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5714-0
  • US List Price $26.00

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 harbored 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 laborer 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 reveled 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 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.

Praise for Walking with Ghosts:

“A dreamy book, lyrical, filled with images of things that slipped by and have faded. He writes passionately about his first love and hilariously about his early fame as an actor.”—Colm Tóibín, Irish Times

“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

“Gabriel Byrne writes as if he has literary power to burn: All the dancing force of his poetry belies a story that is also so necessary, so restrained, so overflowing with gentleness, vulnerability, truth. I was hooked — and deeply jealous — by page one. It takes real talent, self-assurance and guts to write this well and with this much honesty; Byrne looks as if he’s been doing it his whole life.”—Alexandra Fuller, author of Travel Light, Move Fast

“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

Walking with Ghosts 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

“[Byrne] writes with much more depth than the typical celebrity memoirist, accessing some of Heaney’s earthiness and Joyce’s grasp of how Catholic guilt can shape an artist… Possesses a winning dry humor that reads as authentically humble… Byrne is an impressive chronicler. A melancholy but gemlike memoir, elegantly written and rich in hard experience.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Actor Byrne channels his fellow countrymen and Ireland’s literary masters — Beckett, Heaney, Joyce, Yeats — to create an exceptionally lyrical and expressive memoir about his childhood and early career… Bracingly revealing about his struggle with alcoholism, achingly passionate about the Ireland of his youth, and piercingly frank about his acting life, Byrne is a vivid, evocative, and sumptuously compelling memoirist.”—Booklist

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.”—Guardian (UK) 

“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

Walking with Ghosts is 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

“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 wry and warm, swirling poetic reverie of a memoir.”—Colin Barrett

“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

“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