'All your questions are answered in that second when your soul leaves your body with your guardian angel'
Author Lorna Byrne tells Joanna Kiernan about life, seeing angels and what she thinks of the cynics
Whatever your views on the existence of angels, Lorna Byrne is a fascinating individual to meet. I am always prepared with a healthy dose of strong, but polite, cynicism when meeting anyone who professes to see what many of us dub supernatural or unexplainable phenomena. However, the debate about such issues is something which makes the world a more interesting place.
Lorna shot to fame in 2008 following the publication of her first book, Angels in my Hair, and is now an international bestselling author with four books under her belt, which have been translated into 30 languages.
And her message, that we all have guardian angels, which she can see, has found its way into the hearts of millions of people, globally.
"Your guardian angel meets your soul in heaven and God joins you together, and when it is time for you to be conceived, the soul and the guardian angel come together," Lorna tells me.
"I was very privileged because I was allowed to see the guardian angel with my grandson when my daughter was pregnant and she didn't even know she was pregnant yet. It was incredible," she smiles. "So you actually know your guardian angel, but it's just the human side of us often decides to disconnect or partly disconnect from them. We would make fewer mistakes if we listened more."
The serenity and conviction with which Lorna speaks is endlessly intriguing. I have been known to investigate the mystical side of life with both failure and success, disappointment and awe in some instances. So, like many, I am cautious of jumping on every band wagon.
There are a gaggle of businesses within the 'mystical' industry, specially designed to take advantage of the often innate desire for more knowledge, comfort or direction in life and death, which many people have.
Lorna Byrne, however, is no glory-hunting 'mystic'. She is warm, pleasant and notably shy. There is nothing pushy about her, there are no spiritual jazz hands, and she does not attempt to convince people into her way of thinking. It is simply there for the taking should they feel the urge to read about it in her books or attend one of her many talks around the world.
Lorna is not a fortune teller, she is not a psychic. She is a 'messenger', she explains, attempting to deliver upon the instructions of the angels, who have surrounded her since birth.
Lorna and her late husband Joe on their wedding day
Lorna's most recent book, Love from Heaven, has just been re-released with an updated 'Seven Day Path' exercise to help readers unlock more love in their lives.
"I think the softer side of life has to be recognised or we will turn into a people just full of hate," Lorna explains.
"If we don't have any love or compassion in us, then you lose all of your emotions and feelings, and life means nothing. We have to turn that key inside us and let out more of the love we have, because we have so much. Imagine what the world would be like then."
Lorna receives regular correspondence from her fans around the world, who claim that her books have changed their lives.
"They say, 'you gave me hope', 'you gave me something to live for', because as soon as you start letting love out, you will start to feel happier; you'll start to feel more joy in your life and that will bounce off everyone around you," she smiles.
Lorna's angels message is embraced by people from many faiths and even some of those who have no faith at all.
"I am Catholic myself and I believe in God and I have a really strong faith, but I talk to all faiths, all religions," she tells me. "I suppose God decided that I would put up no boundaries and I don't know how that happened.
"Other people do try to put up boundaries, but I am not to allow boundaries to go up. So, I have people of all faiths and all religions reading the books and coming to the talks or book signings.
"I don't force it on anyone. I am only the messenger," Lorna explains. "I can only give you the message and it is up to you, regardless of what faith you are or even if you have a faith at all, because there are loads of people now who would say they don't believe in God or anything, but they would say 'Lorna we believe you' and they believe they have a guardian angel.
"I always remember a mother, who was Jewish, and she had her little girl with her and it was just so sad," Lorna adds. "I saw their guardian angels wrapped around them. They thought that because they were Jewish, that for some reason the father, who had died on his own, was alone at that moment.
"The little girl had said to her mother: 'Please ask Lorna did daddy have a guardian angel with him even though he was Jewish?' And, of course, he had. To see that relief and the hope of them knowing that he didn't die alone, and that his guardian angel was with him, was wonderful. Everyone has a guardian angel."
Lorna believes that while many might find it hard to believe, there are even more individuals out there who believe in angels but are loath to tell others about these beliefs for fear of ridicule.
"When you walked in, you didn't walk in alone," she says. "So it's normal and natural for me.
"A lot of people have no problem with it and that's from all walks of life, but yet they seem to keep it a secret because they are afraid to lose credibility within their life; they could be a judge, a surgeon, a journalist," she giggles, "a teacher."
When the photographer joins us, Lorna smiles and explains that as he made his way over to our table, she couldn't take her eyes off the 'swagger' and unique style of the guardian angel, who followed him into the Westbury Hotel.
Intrigued, I ask who she sees over my shoulder.
"When you came up the stairs, I just saw the light of your guardian angel. It didn't open up, but there was loads and they still are all around you. So you do have lots of help and you have the soul of a loved one coming in and out too."
Lorna says that she has always seen the angels in human form, even though they are neither male nor female, with wings which will often appear folded around people in times of distress.
Lorna kept the fact that she sees angels a secret, even from her family, until the publication of her first book, which the angels foretold she would write. So, how has her life changed since she opened up about her unique gift?
"It hasn't really changed because I haven't changed, but I suppose I do a lot more travelling now and I do the talks. Getting up on stage and doing interviews and TV, I am a nervous wreck, but it is taken away," she says. "I make it clear that I am not a fortune teller.
"Even though I could, but I won't, because everyone has to live their life and you have to make your own choices.
"Most people ask questions about their guardian angel spiritual questions."
Lorna has also used her position to do charity work."I have set up a charity now called the Lorna Byrne Children's Foundation and I am working with UNICEF for the children of Syria, and APA, who work to combat AIDS in Africa, and I am also working with Blue Box in Limerick."
Lorna, who is one of nine children, was born in Old Kilmainham in 1955. She was dyslexic, but at the time little was known about the condition, she was diagnosed by doctors as being 'retarded'. family
"I do get distracted, but I'm an adult now so it has become easier to manage," Lorna explains. "As a child, my mum would sometimes say that she was talking to me and I would be looking somewhere else behind her."
Lorna's family moved a number of times when she was growing up, living in both Ballymun and Raheny.
"We were kind of all over the place," she smiles. "Now, I live in Kilkenny. I was in Maynooth for many years and that's where I raised my own children."
Lorna married her husband, Joe, in 1976, who sadly passed away in 2000, leaving her alone with their four children - two boys and two girls - the youngest of whom was just five at the time. She now has three grandchildren with another on the way.
And while Lorna says she has been told information about the future by the angels (both her marriage to Joe and his tragic passing were foretold to her), she now asks the angels not to tell her about her own life.
"With my own family, yes, I have been told a few things and I have just said I don't want to know, because you'd rather not know. It is much harder if you know, especially when you can't change it."
And what does Lorna think of the cynics out there? "It actually doesn't matter," she smiles. "All I can do is give the messages, and it is up to the world to listen or not.
"I am not forcing anything on anybody; it is your choice, but at some stage in your life, you will believe [in angels] because even at the end, at that moment of death, you know - all of your questions are answered in that second when your soul leaves your body with your angel.
"So isn't it lovely if you know beforehand? Because then you wouldn't be so afraid of death."
Lorna Byrne's book Love from Heaven is out now. For more information on Lorna and her charity work through The Lorna Byrne Children's Foundation see: www.lornabyrne.com