How do you kick off a conversation with a woman who says she sees angels?
The answer is I haven’t a clue, so I really did not know where to start when I interviewed Ireland’s ‘angel whisperer’ and international bestselling author Lorna Byrne earlier this week, ahead of her upcoming speaking event in Breaffy, Castlebar, tomorrow (December 13 ).
Ordinarily, people who say they are receiving daily messages from ethereal creatures are roundly dismissed.
That does not seem to be the case here.
Ms Byrne’s first book, Angels in My Hair, published seven years ago, in which she described how she sees and speaks with angels as physically as you or I would see a person standing beside us, has become a huge worldwide hit, translated into 26 languages and published in 50 countries.
Her message, that every individual has his/her own guardian angel tasked with guiding and protecting his/her soul, seems to have struck a chord with many thousands - if not millions - of people across a diverse spectrum of religious creeds around the globe.
When I chat to Ms Byrne on the phone from her home in Maynooth on Monday, she tells me angels have been “coming and going all day”.
“I see so many more angels at this time of the year,” she explains. “It is such a sacred time.”
Ms Byrne says her earliest memories are filled with angels.
“From the moment I opened my eyes, I saw angels. At that time, I was only an infant and I remember trying to catch them.”
Diagnosed with an intellectual disability as a young child [although she actually suffers from the then little known condition dyslexia], the angels told Ms Byrne to keep her supernatural insights secret.
“If I had told anybody, I probably wouldn’t be talking to you today,” she explains. “I would have been put in a home maybe, that happened to a lot of young children.”
Ms Byrne says her angelic messengers eventually urged her to pen her story. Angels in My Hair has since been followed up with further hits - Stairways to Heaven, A Message of Hope from the Angels, and her latest book Love from Heaven, which raced straight to the number one spot in the Irish and UK book charts.
The widowed mother of four grown-up children believes she has been chosen, for reasons unknown to her, to spread a message of love, compassion, and hope.
“The world needs more love. We could all be a lot kinder, gentler,” she surmises.
Even our politicians could benefit from letting a bit more love into their lives, she adds.
“Maybe then they wouldn’t find it so hard to make their decisions. They would make them for the right reasons - not for money or power or politics.”
She describes the angels she sees as “beautiful” and “incredible”.
“They can take on a human appearance but they are not like you or me. We are billions of times more than any angel because we have a soul,” she says.
“Your guardian angel is with you from conception, protecting your soul. They do everything possible to help and guide you through life,” she explains.
No doubt many are hugely sceptical of Ms Byrne’s claims. However, this does not bother the quietly spoken 59-year-old.
“God has allowed that these books are helping people all over the world - to me that is incredible. It doesn’t bother me if people criticise me or laugh at me because when I see what a difference it makes in the world, that’s what it is about.”
Ms Byrne is coming to Mayo to speak at St Aloysius Church, Breaffy, Castlebar, tomorrow, from 3pm to 5pm.
The event is in aid of a charity that is very close to her heart - A Partnership for Africa, which supports children orphaned by AIDS in Tanzania and Ethophia.
Tickets for the event cost €10 and are available from Downtown Records outlets on Main Street, Castlebar, and Bridge Street, Westport, and on the door on night, subject to availability.
All proceeds from the event go to A Partnership with Africa.
Ms Byrne’s latest book Love from Heaven is available in bookshops now.