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Brendan Behan 1923-1964
Brendan Behan, one of Irelands best-known and most beloved modern political writers, was born to a northside Dublin family in 1923. The son of staunch Republicans, he became enthusiastically involved in the IRAs youth wing at an early age, quickly moving up the ranks of the clandestine organization. In 1939, Behan was arrested in Liverpool, England, for carrying IRA explosives and sentenced to 18 months in a boys prison, an experience that formed the basis for his 1958 novel Borstal Boy.
After several years shuttling in and out of prison, Behan was finally released in 1948 and set off for Paris, the beginning of a lifelong love affair with France. His triumph came in 1956, when his play The Quare Fellow debuted at the Pike Theatre in Dublin, causing quite a stir with its themes of sex, political intrigue, religiosity, and crime, subjects that continued to permeate Behans later work.
Ever a lover of drink, Behans battles with alcohol were to colour his public persona and shorten his life. This penchant for liquor aggravated his diabetes and helped to bring about his untimely death on March 20th, 1964, at the Meath Hospital, leaving behind a wife and infant daughter. He was buried, at his request, with a full IRA honour guard at his funeral.