Authors: Lorna Byrne
ANGELS IN MY HAIR
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Published by Century 2008
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Copyright © Lorna Byrne 2008
Lorna Byrne has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs
and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work
This electronic book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser
First published in Great Britain in 2008 by
Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,
London SW1V 2SA
Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at:
The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009
A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library
For my children
A heartfelt thank you to Jean Callanan for her support,
dedication and courage. The first time I met her, the Angels
told me that she was going to play a fundamental role in
helping me to write and publish this book. Little did she know
how much time, effort and hard work was going to be
required. I thank her for her good humour, enthusiasm,
patience, generosity and friendship. A heartfelt thank you to
Jean Callanan for her support, dedication and courage. The
first time I met her, the Angels told me that she was going to
play a fundamental role in helping me to write and publish this
book. Little did she know how much time, effort and hard
work was going to be required. I thank her for her good
humour, enthusiasm, patience, generosity and friendship. I
thank the Angels for bringing me someone with a lot of
business experience which has proved to be invaluable. The
Angels told me that I didn't need an agent, that in Jean I had
someone who was better than any agent out there.
I couldn't have asked for a better Editor than Mark Booth.
His trust, confidence and belief in this book have made an
enormous difference. He has gone way beyond what is
normally expected of an editor. My profound thanks to a
wonderful and special man who is becoming a good friend and
I thank the angels for sending him to me.
My thanks also to all the Century team particularly to
Charlotte Haycock for her good humour and efficiency and to
Rina Gill for her enthusiasm, creativity and fun.
Various people, who I am happy to call my friends have
helped with this book: Stephen Mallaghan for his generosity,
enthusiasm and kindness . . . and for being such a good friend;
Daniel O' Donnell for his encouragement and for opening the
first doors; Jim Corr for his support, generosity and curiosity;
Eoin MacHale for creating a wonderful website; Patricia
Scanlan for her encouragement.
A thank you to my friends: Catherine and John Kerrigan;
who have provided enormous support in good times and bad;
Sally White for making me laugh; John Carthy for being there;
Brian Kelly for his support and generosity; The Quigley family
for their support to me in the practical issues all mothers have
to deal with.
Finally to my children who have made sure that I have
always kept my feet on the ground! Many thanks to them for
being there for me and particularly to my youngest whose life
has been turned upside down by this book.
When I was two years old the doctor told my mother I was
As a baby, my mother noticed that I always seemed to be in
a world of my own. I can even remember lying in a cot – a big
basket – and seeing my mother bending over me. Surrounding
my mother I saw wonderful bright, shiny beings in all the
colours of the rainbow: they were much bigger than I was, but
smaller than her – about the size of a three-year-old child.
These beings floated in the air like feathers; and I remember
reaching out to touch them, but I never succeeded. I was
fascinated by these creatures with their beautiful lights. At that
time I didn't understand that I was seeing anything different to
what other people saw; it was to be much later that I learned
from them that they were called angels.
As the months passed, my mother noticed that I'd always be
looking or staring somewhere else, no matter what she'd do to
try to get my attention. In truth, I
somewhere else: I was
away with the angels; watching what they were doing and
talking and playing with them. I was enthralled.
I was a late talker, but I had been conversing with angels
from very early on. Sometimes we used words as you and I
understand them, but sometimes no words were needed – we
would know each other's thoughts. I believed that everyone
else could see what I saw, but then the angels told me not to
say anything to anyone about seeing them; and that I should
keep it a secret between us. In fact, for many years I listened to
the angels and I didn't tell people what I saw. It is only now
while writing this book, that I am telling much of what I have
seen for the first time.
The doctor's comment when I was just two was to have a
profound effect on my life: I realised that people can be very
cruel. At the time we lived in Old Kilmainham, near to the
centre of Dublin. My father rented a little bicycle repair shop
there, which had a cottage attached. If you walked through the
shop and around to the left, you would come to a tiny and
fairly dilapidated house. It was part of a row of old cottages and
shops, but most of them were empty or abandoned because
they were in such bad condition. For much of the time we
lived in the one little room downstairs: here we cooked, ate,
talked, played and even washed in a big metal basin in front of
the fire. Although the house had no bathroom, outside in the
back garden, down a little path, was a shed with a loo. Upstairs
there were two small bedrooms; at first I shared one of the
bedrooms, and a bed, with my older sister, Emer.
It wasn't just angels I was seeing (and I saw them constantly
– from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep), but also the
spirits of people who had died. My brother, Christopher, had
been born long before me but he had died when he was only
about ten weeks old. Although I never saw him while he was
alive, I could visualise him– he was dark haired, while my sister
and myself were fair – and I could also play with him in spirit.
At the time I thought there was nothing strange about this;
it felt as if he was just another child, although he seemed a
little brighter in appearance. One of the first things that made
me realise that he was different, though, was that his age could
change. Sometimes he appeared as a baby, but other times he
looked about the same age as me, toddling across the floor. He
wasn't there constantly, either, but seemed to come and go.
Late on one cold winter afternoon, just as it was getting
dark, I was alone in the little living room of the house in Old
Kilmainham. There was fire in the open fireplace, which was
the only light in the room. The firelight flickered across the
floor where I was sitting playing with little wooden blocks that
my father had made. Christopher came to play with me. He sat
nearer the fire – he said that it was too hot for me where he
was, but it was okay for him as he didn't feel the heat. Together
we built a tower: I would put one brick down and he would put
another on top of it. The tower was getting very tall and then,
suddenly, our hands touched. I was amazed – he felt so
different to other people I touched. When I touched him he
sparked – it was as if there were little stars flying. At that
moment I went into him (or perhaps he went into me); it was
as if we merged and became one. In my shock I knocked over
our tower of bricks!
I burst out laughing, then I touched him again. I think that
was the first time I fully realised that he wasn't flesh and blood.
I never confused Christopher with an angel; the angels that
I saw did sometimes have a human appearance, but when they
did, most of them had wings and their feet did not touch the
ground and they had a sort of bright light shining inside them.
Some of the time the angels I saw would have no human aspect
at all, but appeared as a sharp glowing light.
Christopher appeared around my mum a lot. Sometimes
Mum would be sitting in the chair by the fire and would doze
off and I'd see him cradled in her arms. I didn't know whether
my mother was aware of Christopher's presence so I asked
him, 'Will I tell Mum that you're here?'
'No, you can't tell her,' he replied. 'She won't understand.
But sometimes she feels me.'
One winter morning, the angels came to my bed as the sun
was coming up. I was curled up under the blankets; my sister
Emer, with whom I shared the bed, was up and about and
instead Christopher was curled up beside me. He tickled me
and said 'Look, look, Lorna – over at the window.'
As I have said, angels can appear in different forms and sizes;
this morning they looked like snowflakes! The glass in the
window seemed to become a vapour, and as each snowflake hit
the window it was transformed into an angel about the size of
a baby. The angels were then carried on a beam of sunlight
through the window and each one seemed to be covered in
white and shiny snowflakes. As the angels touched me the
snowflakes fell from them onto me: they tickled as they landed
and, surprisingly, they felt warm, not cold.
'Wouldn't it be wonderful,' Christopher said, 'if everybody
knew that they could fill their pockets with angels; that they
could fit thousands of angels into one pocket, just like with
snowflakes, and be able to carry them around with them and
never be alone.'
I turned and asked, 'What if they melted in their pockets?'
Christopher giggled and said, 'No! Angels never melt!'
I rather sadly replied, 'Christopher, I wish that you could fit
in my Mum's pocket like a snowflake, and be there for her all
He turned and looked at me, as we were cuddled up in bed,
and said, 'You know I'm there already.'
When I was an adult my mother told me she had had a baby
son called Christopher who had been born a year before me
but had only lived ten weeks. I just smiled in response. I
remember asking her where Christopher was buried and she
told me that it was in an unmarked grave (as was the custom
in those days) in a baby's graveyard in Dublin.
It's sad that there is no grave with his name on that I can go
and visit, but he's not forgotten. Sometimes even now, all these
years later, I feel Christopher's hand in my pocket pretending
to make snowflakes, reminding me I am never alone.
I learnt more about Christopher and my mother one day
when I was about four or five years old. I was sitting at the
table swinging my legs and eating breakfast when I caught a
glimpse of Christopher, looking as if he were about twelve
years old, running across the room to the shop door just as my
mother walked in with some toast. She had a big smile on her
face as she said, 'Lorna, there is a surprise for you in the back
workroom under Da's workbench!'
I jumped up from the table, all excited, and followed
Christopher. He went straight through the shop and into the
dark workshop; I had to stop at the door because it was so dark
in there that I couldn't see anything and I needed my eyes to
adjust to the darkness first. However, Christopher was just like
a light, a soft shimmering glow that lit up a path for me
through the cluttered workshop. He called out 'The cat has had
kittens!' And there, thanks to Christopher's light, I could see
four tiny little kittens – three were jet black, and one was black
and white. They were so beautiful, so soft and glossy. The
mother cat, Blackie, got out of the box, stretched herself then
jumped out of the little window into the garden. I ran after her
and called to Christopher to come too, but he would not come
into the garden.
I walked back in and asked Christopher, 'Why wouldn't you
He took my hand, as if to comfort me – I loved the touch of
his hand – and our hands merged again. It felt magical: it made
me feel safe and happy.
'Lorna, when babies die their spirits stay with their mothers
for as long as they are needed, so I stay here with Mum. If I
went outside, it would be like breaking those memories – and
that I won't do!'
I knew what he meant. My mother had poured so much love
into him: all the memories she had of being pregnant and
carrying him inside her, the birth, the joy and the happiness
she had holding him in her arms and bringing him home –
when even then she had a feeling that something was wrong,
despite what the doctors told her. Mum had a precious few
weeks at home with Christopher before he died, and
Christopher told me of all the love that she had poured on him
which he now poured on her.
So my spirit brother would remain in the house, never going
out, until the day came when we had to leave that little shop in
Old Kilmainham for good. At that time it seemed that my mum
was ready to let my little brother go and felt strong enough to
When I see an angel I want to stop and stare; I feel like I am in
the presence of a tremendous power.When I was younger, the
angels generally adopted a human form – to make it easier for
me to accept them – but now that's no longer necessary. The
angels I see don't always have wings but when they do I am
sometimes amazed by their form; sometimes they are like
flames of fire, and yet they have shape and solidity. Some of the
angels' wings have feathers; one angel I saw had wings that
were so slender, tall and pointed that I found it hard to believe
that they were wings. I wanted to ask the angel to open them
When angels have a human appearance – with or without
wings – their eyes are one of their most fascinating features.
Angel eyes are not like human eyes; they are so alive, so full of
life and light and love. It's as if they contain the essence of life
itself – their radiance fills you completely.
I have never seen an angel's feet actually touch the ground;
when I see one walking towards me, I see what looks like a
cushion of energy between the ground and their feet.
Sometimes it looks like a thin thread, but other times this
cushion grows between the earth and the angel, and even sinks
into the earth itself.
Ever since I was very young there was one particular angel
who used to appear to me often. The first time I saw him he
was in the corner of the bedroom and he just said 'Lorna'. In
some ways he looked like other angels, but there was
something different about him, too, he shone more strongly
than the others and he had a commanding presence, a
powerful force of male strength. From that first time I saw him
I always felt he was ready to protect me, like a shield, and from
then on he kept appearing and gradually I befriended him. He
told me his name was Michael.
School was difficult for me; most of the teachers treated me as
if I were slow. My First Holy Communion was at school when
I was six, and it was horrible. It should have been a very special
day – as it is for most Irish children. When we were preparing
for First Holy Communion in the classroom the teachers
would ask the children questions, checking that they had
learnt their catechism, but they wouldn't bother with me;
they'd say 'There is no point asking you!' And when all the
other children had to stand in line and say something about
the Communion, I would stand in line, too, but then I'd be
dragged out and told to go and sit down. As a young child, this
really hurt. So while I sat down at the back of the class or on
one of the benches in the corner I'd ask my angels, 'Don't they
know that I know my catechism, too? They aren't even giving
me a chance.'
Then in church on my first communion day as I finally made
my way up to the altar I was grabbed by the arm and pulled out
of the queue again because the teacher decided that the better
girls should go ahead of me.
There were some kind people, though; when I was about
four, I remember there was a nun called (I think) Mother
Moderini. She had been told that I was slow and retarded, but
I felt she knew better.When I was in her class she would come
down and ask me little questions to which I always knew the
answer, so then she'd smile and rub my head.
But despite these occasional acts of kindness from a few
people, I grew up an outsider. People could see that I was
different and they just couldn't understand it. That aspect of
my life has been very, very hard – and it still is today. People
say I'm too trusting, too truthful for this world, but I cannot be
any other way! The strange thing is, that to be truthful in every
way – in how you think and in how you speak – and to be
truthful to those around you is hard and it does tend to isolate
The way people think about or look at me does affect me
greatly even now. Even though they may not know me, or
know what I do, they know that on some level I am different.
If I go out with friends and meet someone new, who knows
nothing about me, they will often report back to my friends
that there is something unusual about me, something that
they can't quite put their finger on. This can be difficult to live