Lorna Byrne: ‘Angels told me I’d have another baby’

Bestselling author Lorna Byrne is convinced that her daughter Aideen was a ‘miracle’ child – in the true sense of the word. They reveal here how angels have shaped their lives and their relationship.

Lorna’s story

Lorna Byrne is a bestselling author and philanthropist. She lives in Co Kilkenny and has four children and four grandchildren.

Aideen was just four when her father, my husband, Joe passed away in 2000. We met when I was 17 and I knew he would die young. Angels have spoken to me since I was an infant and told me that my husband and I would not grow old together.

Despite knowing my life with Joe would be cut short, I loved him and married him. We had four children together – Aideen is the youngest – before he died after a long illness, aged 46.

I’ve often reflected that had I acted on the information given to me by angels, I wouldn’t have suffered such a heart-breaking loss and become a widowed, single mother. But then I wouldn’t have my children and I can’t imagine life without them. I don’t regret that path.

Lorna and Aideen
Lorna with daughter Aideen last year

Angels have been in my life for as long as I can remember. I have memories of them leaning over my cot, tall and bathed in bright light. As a child they told me one day I’d write a book, which made me laugh because back then I was described as ‘slow’. I couldn’t even write my name. In fact, I was dyslexic but with no diagnosis I was put at the back of the classroom and largely ignored.

At home in Dublin, I was one of eight children and loved by my parents but I was treated differently. Expectations of me were low, conversations would stop when I walked into a room because my family would assume I couldn’t contribute or understand. I often felt I was on the outside of family life.

Angels were my constant companions. They urged me to keep them secret and it was normal for me to speak with them. I also saw souls. My brother Christopher – who died before I was born – would come to play with me, and I would see him in my mother’s arms while she slept by the fire. She never spoke of him but the angels explained he had died and I didn’t feel frightened.

I never expected to have Aideen. Joe was ill for a long time and I felt sure our family was complete with our teenage children Christopher, Niall and Pearl. But angels told me I’d have another baby. I just didn’t see how that would be possible with Joe’s poor health.

One day, Joe told me a girl had come into his room while I’d been out. He described her in detail and I knew it was a soul. Soon after, I conceived Aideen who grew up to look exactly like the girl he had described.

After Joe died, I understood why I’d had another baby. At that time, my older children were beginning to fly the nest, finding jobs and leaving school. Having Aideen, and her being so young, was a blessing. Caring for her gave me a focus. Mothering a young child who depended on me was the reason to create a new future for us.

Aideen and I moved from Maynooth to rural Kilkenny, where I bought a derelict farmhouse and began to renovate it. She found living in our old family home, with all the memories of her father, difficult and I wanted a fresh start. To the outside world I appeared alone. It was hard, yet I was never truly by myself as I had angels. I drew strength from that. When Aideen would come home from school upset because the teacher had asked the class to do a drawing for their dads, or someone had teased her about not having one, it hurt. She grew up against a backdrop of loss and feeling different. I wished I could take that pain away.

Lorna and Aideen
The pair in 1997

My relationship with angels shaped me as a mother. Always showing me love and compassion, I was influenced greatly by them and tried to channel that into my role as a parent, urging my children to confide in me and know how loved they were. I also encouraged them to believe in and speak to their own guardian angel but never told them about my experiences.

It wasn’t until 2008, when they read the manuscript of my first book, Angels In My Hair, that they discovered my secret. It took me four years to finish it, recording it on tapes which were then transcribed because I cannot read or write well. Its success stunned me. The angels told me I’d write it and it would be a bestseller but it was a lot to take in, especially after being given up on intellectually as a child.

It was wonderful knowing my book was being read by people of all faiths around the world. But that meant a lot of travel, having to leave Aideen with her siblings while I flew from country to country to promote it. There were times I felt torn between my gratitude and desire to help others, and being a mother to my children. I wanted to be at home, not living in hotels, but I hoped I was showing my children it’s never too late to pursue a new path in life.

Aideen has worked alongside me for years, helping to edit my books, which I speak into a computer, and drew the illustrations for my most recent one. We have a very special relationship, both because she is the baby of the family and that it was just the two of us for so many years. I have poured my love into her, as the angels have done to me, and I am forever thankful for her.

Increasingly, people are turning to spirituality and a belief in angels for comfort and a sense of grounding in what is such a chaotic, materialistic world. When I think about my own life, and the experiences I’ve had, I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t had my belief in angels.

Aideen’s story

Aideen Byrne, 24, lives in Edinburgh and Co Kilkenny. She works as a legal educator and researcher.

I was 12 when Mum’s first book was published and since then I have heard, countless times, that she is everything from ‘crazy’ to a ‘fraudster’.

When I was a student I managed her social media accounts, but for a time I had to step back. I found it hard reading the cruel comments, even though they were far outweighed by messages of love and thanks.

I think she is incredibly brave to put her beliefs in the public domain knowing she will be criticised for it by some. It doesn’t faze her, but I couldn’t do what she does.

I’ve been told I must be brainwashed to believe Mum sees and speaks with angels, but I’ve always responded by saying she has never required me to believe what she does. When I was a teenager, I decided I didn’t believe in God, and she was fine with that. I came back to my Catholic faith over time, but have always been curious and questioning about spirituality.

Mum isn’t my guru – she’s my mother and there has always been space in our relationship for our beliefs to differ.

Lorna and Aideen
Aideen illustrated Lorna’s latest book

Her style of mothering was calm and measured, she always had time to explain things, never too busy or distracted despite all she was coping with. It was only when she was more open about her relationship with angels that I understood their influence on her had been replicated in how she raised us.

I moved back home in March last year to spend lockdown with Mum and work remotely. After living away since I was 18, it’s been unexpected but wonderful to have so much time with her.

Working on her latest book together, which is about children and their guardian angels, was a chance to reflect on my childhood – not just my experiences of losing my father, but also what it was like for her at that time; how she coped and the decisions she made for both of us.

Her resilience in moving to a new area, raising me single-handedly then forging her career as an author shows the inner strength and determination beneath her gentle, unassuming exterior. I feel very protective of Mum, but she’s more than capable of looking after herself. She has faced challenges and loss in her life, but come through it filled with love.

I grew up knowing I had a guardian angel and believing that angels were always present. It was just part of the conversation in our home. I think of my spirituality as a blessing – many of my friends have stepped back from these kinds of beliefs but I feel lucky to have mine.

I believe I would always have been a spiritual person, regardless of Mum. I talk to my guardian angel and meditate, sharing how I am feeling and seeking guidance. That grounds me – and Mum has been an amazing guide in encouraging me to do that.

Lorna’s book My Guardian Angel, My Best Friend: Seven Stories for Children is published by Hodder & Stoughton, price £12.99. To order a copy for £11.43 until 11 April go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.

As told to Eimear O’Hagan.