Jason Byrne: ‘You need a license for a dog but not for a baby’

Life Lessons: No one teaches you how to raise children, but their love is the best drug in the world

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your life?

Having children. No one teaches you how to raise them; you need a license for a dog but not for a baby. When you and the wife leave the hospital they hand you this very fragile, beautiful little ball – if you drop it you’ll break it, if you sit on it you’ll break it, if you don’t watch it all the time it will break itself. So it’s a constant life of watching and worrying. But you end up with the most amazing thing ever.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Never say yes unless you have the permission to say no. If you’re in a situation – work or relationship – when someone asks you to do something, and you don’t want to do it, then that should be all right. In other words, if you say no it’s okay. Plus, nobody trusts a yes-man.

And the worst?

“No, you can’t do that.” “Do not go for your goal.” “Know your place in life, and stay there.” “Go to Mass.”

What moment changed your life?

Every moment, every decision I make, changes my life. I don’t have one moment, nobody does; a string of moments and decisions change your life all the way to the end.


Who do you admire most?

Finally, after 47 years on this Earth, I can say it’s me. I admire myself for getting through all the shit and still find myself standing. If you’re reading this, give yourself a pat on the back, well done you. Admire yourself, because wherever you stand is the centre of the universe.

What has been the biggest influence on your career?

I've had many; the people I meet, listen to, watch and learn from are all influences on my life. So, in other words, listen to everyone around you and always be willing to learn, unless it's Boris Johnson.

What do you do to help your personal development?

I run, run , run. Oh, and breathe.

What is your biggest flaw?

Thinking everything I do is not good enough, that I could be better, when I should realise I am really good at what I do. Being better is just improving how good I am at what I do now.

What is your worst habit?

Thinking too much.

What are you most proud of?

My amazing children, and that’s not a cliche; there is no love like the love of your own child. It’s the best drug in the word.

What is your motto for life?

Again, never say yes unless you have the permission to say no.

Jason Byrne’s new children’s book The Accidental Adventures of Onion O’Brien: The Head of Ned Belly (illustrated by Oisín McGann) is published by Gill on September 27th