Irish actor, Hollywood star, and Nolita resident Gabriel Byrne’s memoir Walking With Ghosts has been out for a few months and it turns out our very famous neighbor is also a rather gifted writer. The book tracing his path from a working class childhood in Dublin, to seminary school in London and back again to Ireland, to how he did amateur theater on a friend’s suggestion and ended up one of his country’s most celebrated actors and a genuine film star, struggling both with addiction and the spotlight.
Here’s a short excerpt from Walking With Ghosts:
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.
That begins a quiet, poignant section in which Byrne relates this struggle with his blue collar worker father’s expectations of life (and of him), which you can read more of over at LitHub.
Byrne will be discussing Walking With Ghosts this Thursday, February 25th with Sarah McNally, the founder of McNally Jackson on Prince, via Zoom from 7 to 8 p.m. Tickets are just $5 each, and you can enter BYRNE5OFF during online checkout on their website to receive $5 off the price of the book.