Brendan Behan

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BRENDAN BEHAN (1923 - 1964)

Brendan Behan, the Irish playwright and author, was born in Dublin on 9 February 1923.

He left school at the age of 13 and had many jobs. At that time, he joined the Irish Republican Army, which was outlawed.

Behan spent much of the 1940s in reform school and prison.

Having been convicted of carrying explosives in 1939 in Liverpool, he was sentenced to a "Borstal", i.e. a boys prison, for eighteen months, and there he began writing.

Later on he was sentenced to fourteen years for shooting at a policeman.

His observations of prison life became the stuff for "The Quare Fellow", a play about the hours preceding a hanging. It was produced first in the Pike Theatre in Dublin, then, in 1956, in London. "The play was a statement on the condition of the outcast and the emotions excited by barbaric revenge, rather than a piece of anti-capital-punishment propaganda" (MS Encarta).

"The Hostage" was even more successful. Set in an Irish brothel, it was staged in Dublin in 1958.

Behan's plays are marked by the use of "earthy dialogue and trenchant humour", and carried on the tradition of the urban drama created by Sean O'Casey.

His prose works include "Borstal Boy" (1958), an account of his term in the boys reform school, "Brendan Behan's Island" (1962), a collection of Irish anecdotes, "Hold Your Hour and Have Another" (1964), "The Scarperer" (1964), and "Confessions of an Irish Rebel" (1965).

Diabetes and alcohol ruined Brendan Behan's health. He died on 20 March 1964 in Dublin.

Ref.: Microsoft® Encarta® 96 Encyclopedia


"The Quare Fellow", 1954
"The Big House", 1957 (one act play, commissioned for radio)
"An Giall", 1958
"The Hostage", 1958 (Behan wrote the play in Irish and translated it to English)
"Richard's Cork Leg", 1972
"Moving Out" (one act play, commissioned for radio)
"A Garden Party" (one act play, commissioned for radio)

"Borstal Boy", 1958
"Brendan Behan's Island", 1962
"Hold Your Hour and Have Another", 1963
"Brendan Behan's New York", 1964
"Confessions of an Irish Rebel", 1965

Source: wikipedia


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Brendan Behan, The laughing boy

It was on an August morning, all in the moring hours,
I went to take the warming air all in the month of flowers,
And there I saw a maiden and heard her mournful cry,
Oh, what will mend my broken heart, I’ve lost my Laughing Boy.
So strong, so wide, so brave he was, I’ll mourn his loss too sore
When thinking that we’ll hear the laugh or springing step no more.
Ah, curse the time, and sad the loss my heart to crucify,
Than an Irish son, with a rebel gun, shot down my Laughing Boy.
Oh, had he died by Pearse’s side, or in the G.P.O.,
Killed by an English bullet from the rifle of the foe,
Or forcibly fed while Ashe lay dead in the dungeons of Mountjoy,
I’d have cried with pride at the way he died, my own dear Laughing Boy.
My princely love, can ageless love do more than tell to you
Go raibh mile maith Agath, for all you tried to do,
For all you did and would have done, my enemies to destroy,
I’ll prize your name and guard your fame, my own dear Laughing Boy.

From The Hostage (1958)



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