Brendan Behan b.1923 d.1964
was a famous and sometimes infamous writer
He was born into a loving family in the tenements of Russell Street, Dublin in 1923. This street is just off the North Circular Road, near Croke Park, Dublin
Most Irish people will know his name but very little else about him. His fame caught on just as televison became popular and so he is oft remembered for his drunken appearances, where he was very funny. He did a lot of writing in pubs around Dublin and there is a picture in existence today of him sitting in the corner of McDaids Public House in Harry Street, Dublin; typewriter in front of him, cigerette in mouth, pint of Stout at the ready.
In 1948 he went to live in Paris. Here, in the postwar years, writing was really a great occupation and he was in the company of the likes of Sartre and Camus. This did him no harm and he learned the basics of the writing trade.
He married Beatrice Ffrench-Salkeld, in 1955. She was from the other side of the tracks, being the daughter of Cecil Salkeld, a well known painter of the time who lived in Morehampton Road. They were married at the church in Westland Row, Dublin and although he broke her heart on many occasions, they had a happy marrige and travelled the world together.
His plays include "Borstal Boy", "The Quare Fellow" and "The Hostage".
Brendan Behans contempraries included Samuel Beckett, Patrick Kavanagh, and Flann O'Brien
He died in the Meath Hospital in March 1964 with Beatrice at his side, and his death was announced all over the world. The following was an obituary which appeared in the Daily Express in England. It was written by Rene MacColl:
What a sad waste of an enormous talent. This was the story of F.Scott Fitzgerald all over again, story of a Brilliant writer who simply couldn't keep off the bottle. If Brendan had slowed down a little, paced his drinking into something approaching normal intake, he should have been good for another ten or twelve outstanding plays, another five or six absorbing books.
If ever a man did himself in as sure as though he had picked up a revolver and blew his brains out, it was Brendan. Too young to die, but too drunk to live.