Living With Ghosts: The Inside Story from a Troubles Mind


Living With Ghosts is an inside story from inside a ‘Troubles’ mind. Across its pages, veteran journalist Brian Rowan retraces his steps back through the tunnel of Northern Ireland’s conflict years and into the darkness of those times.


Brian Rowan

September 2022


In Living With Ghosts renowned veteran journalist Brian Rowan retraces his steps through Northern Ireland’s conflict years, as he bravely delves into the darkness of those times. His story takes us beyond the often strict boundaries of the news into the very real dilemmas and fears behind its scenes.

In his journalistic career Rowan walked the thinnest of lines, where morals and principles were blurred, and as a result his mind became tortured. This book is an explanation, not a confession.

He goes deep into his contacts with the IRA, the loyalist organisations, MI5, Special Branch, the army and the many other players in the conflict period. And he joins the dots on a path out of ‘war’ in a place that has not yet found peace of mind.

Rowan thinks and writes inside a moral maze, and in this book he invites us into his nightmares of remembering and to times he will never forget.

Living with Ghosts is a moving and deeply personal account of one man’s doubts and decisions, and the challenges of reporting a war on his doorstep.


Preface: Inside a ‘Troubles’ Mind
Prologue: ‘They’ll never find it’
1 The IRA
2 Codewords and Coffee
3 Dark Glasses and Tape
4 The Hell Before the Calm
5 Secret Talks
6 Ceasefires
7 Seeing Through the Fog
8 Face to Face with Freddie
9 A Rainy Day in Belfast
10 Letters from London
11 The War of Lies and Truth
12 David Ervine
Last Word

About the Author
Brian Rowan is a former BBC correspondent in Belfast. Since the late 1980s, he has reported on all the major developments on Northern Ireland’s journey from war to peace; stories he has told using a range of sources – IRA, loyalist, police, military, intelligence, political, Church and others. Rowan left the BBC in 2005, the year the IRA ended its armed campaign. Four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Press and Broadcast awards, including twice as Specialist Journalist of the Year. Living With Ghosts is his seventh book.

Praise for Living with Ghosts
‘As a reporter, he listened to the heartbeat of the Troubles. A difficult and carefully told tale, carried out with humanity’ – Kate Adie

‘Thoughtful and melancholy … If this book helps to exorcise at least some of their demons, it will certainly have served a valuable purpose.’ – Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post

“There is a . . .  Dashiell Hammett quality to Rowan’s writing, which mostly fits a story that attempts to do both the reporter’s job of relating interesting facts but also the writer’s job of capturing the torment that this place inflicted on people for decades.” – Matthew O’Toole, The Irish Times

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