Born in 1923, Brendan Behan was raised at 13 Russell Street in Dublin's north inner city. He became one of Ireland's best-known writers and talkers. Having joined the IRA at the age of sixteen, Behan served time in a borstal institution in England and in prison in Ireland. Released from prison as part of a general amnesty in 1946, Behan moved between Dublin, Kerry and Connemara and spent time in Paris, writing in both Irish and English. He wrote articles for 'The Irish Press' and two radio plays for Radio Éireann.
'The Quare Fellow', Behan's first play, was produced in 1954 in Dublin. He married Beatrice ffrench-Salkeld in 1955. In 1958, Behan's play in the Irish language 'An Giall' was performed at Dublin's Damer Theatre. Afterwards, 'The Hostage', Behan's English language adaptation of 'An Giall', met with great success internationally following Joan Littlewood's production in London in 1958. 'Borstal Boy', Behan's autobiographical novel, was published the same year and became an immediate best seller.
International success and financial reward were followed by an increase in Behan's drinking problems. Suffering from diabetes, compounded by years of heavy drinking, he died on 20 March 1964.The photograph accompanying this clip shows Brendan Behan leaving the High Court in 1961 and is reproduced here with the kind permission of http://www.irishphotoarchive.ie
Brendan Behan talks about growing up on Russell Street and the "three classes of houses" that existed there.
Brendan Behan recalling All Ireland Final days and offering an opinion on the urban rural divide.
Beatrice Behan recalls dating Brendan and their wedding day.
An extract from the play 'Moving Out' by Brendan Behan originally produced for Radio Éireann in 1952.
Joan Littlewood recalls receiving a script for 'The Quare Fellow' in the post, Behan's first visit to her theatre in London, and how she and Behan became friends and collaborators.
An interview with Brendan Behan on the abolition of capital punishment.
On location of a film production of Brendan Behan's 'The Quare Fellow' director Arthur Dreifuss talks about the challenge of transforming the work for cinema.
Joan Littlewood and journalist Donal Foley recall the run of 'The Hostage' in London. 'The Hostage' was played differently every night with topical references added and with Behan himself interjecting or joining in the performance at times.
Brendan Behan and Jim Downey talk about 'The Hostage' in New York. Downey describes the extraordinary reaction to an actor's benefit performance of the play.
On the publication of a biography of Brendan Behan, author Ulick O'Connor and broadcaster Andy O'Mahony discuss the writer.
Beatrice Behan talks about promising herself that she would never change Brendan. For many years alcohol did not appear to be a problem for him. However, later in life, Behan appeared to use alcohol as a shield against life and that which upset him.
Michael Ó hAodha pays tribute to Brendan Behan on the death of the writer in 1964.