Brendan Francis Aidan Behan, was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist and playwright, who wrote both in English and Irish.
Born on 9 February 1923, Brendan grew up at 13 Russell Street in Dublin’s north inner city.
Following spells at a borstal institution in England and prison in Ireland, Behan travelled the length and breadth of Ireland, writing about his many experiences along the way.
In 1954 Behan’s first play “The Quare Fellow” was produced in Dublin. Not long after this, he married Beatrice ffrench-Salkeld. After many years of successful plays, “Borstal Boy”, Behan’s autobiographical novel was published in 1958 becoming an immediate best-seller. He is regarded as one of the greatest Irish writers of all time.
Raging success and financial rewards increased Behan’s alcohol consumption. As a result of his years of heavy drinking coupled with diabetes, Behan passed away in Dublin on 20 March, 1964.
To mark the colourful life of Brendan Behan, Ireland’s Eye has compiled some of his most famous words.
“The politician who introduced the Holy Hour to the Dáil was shot dead an hour afterwards.”
“I’m a drinker with writing problems.”
“People who say manual labour is a good thing have never done any.”
“The first duty of a writer is to let his country down.”
“The Hebrews and the Gaels have much in common. Both are exotic enough to be interesting and foreign enough to be alarming.”
“Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.”
“Since I was a child I’ve had a pathological horror of country people.”
“The Irish are a very popular race – with themselves.”
“The English are even more subtle liars than we are.”
“I took up writing because it’s easier than house painting.”
“The key to reading Ulysses is to treat it like a comedian – as a sort of gag book.”
“I am accused of being blasphemous. But blasphemy is the comic verse of belief.”