Irish poet, novelist, playwright, revolutionary, convict, and alcoholic, 1923 - 1964.

Behan was arrested at age sixteen for his involvement in IRA activities. He spent two years in "borstal" in England. His release was followed by more hijinks related to the lingering animosity which followed the Irish Civil War (which followed the Irish War of Independence, which followed eight centuries of arm-waving and reductionism), and another five years in prison in Ireland.

His great play The Quare Fellow is about life in prison, and his novel Borstal Boy is about just what it says it's about. His play The Hostage is less fabulous, and his last play, Richard's Cork Leg, is damned odd but worth reading. There's a collection of stories floating around called After the Wake. Read it. There's also a somewhat fragmentary memoir, picking up where Borstal Boy leaves off, entitled Confessions of an Irish Rebel.

Behan was by turns hilarious and sentimental, one of those Irish writers; but dammit, he was a good one, one who got well beyond schtick. And what the hell's wrong with sentimentality, anyway? Eh?

The Pogues recorded Behan's song "The Auld Triangle" (from The Quare Fellow) on their Red Roses for Me album.

Behan's work seems mostly to be out of print in the USA (as of this writing, December 2000), but I'm told that can set you up with some Behanical goodness.