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Monday, 12 November 2012

Archive Celebrities: Brendan Behan

Breandán Ó Beacháin was a famous Irish poet, short story, novelist and playwright. He wrote in both Irish and English and is considered by the United States Library of Congress to be one of the most important literary figures of the 20th century.
Born in Dublin on the 9th of February 1923 Brendan Behan was an alcoholic by age 8. By age 14 he was a member of Fianna Eireann, the youth organisation of the tthe IRA (Irish Republican Army). Brendan Behan was trained in explosives and consequentially arrested upon landing in Liverpool in February 1940. He then spent two years in Borstal detention.

His second bout in prison was brought on when he shot at a detective during an IRA parade. This resulted in a fourteen year sentence in Mountjoy prison. Brendan made good use of the time he spent in jail, studying the Irish language and literature. His experiences in Borstal led to the creation of The Bell which was published by Sean O Faolain while Behan was in Mountjoy. 

Behan would serve more prison sentences after Mountjoy but none were so lengthy. After his release in 1946 Brendan turned to painting and writing verse in Irish.
Irish Photo Archive

Behan's most notable works include The Quare Fellow, The Hostage, Borstal Boy, and After the Wake. 

Diabetes and years of alcohol abuse contributed to Brendan Behan's untimely death in 1964. 

Irish Photo Archive
An IRA guard escorted his coffin and his funeral was said to be the biggest since those of Michael Collins or Charles Stewart Parnell.