Brendan Behan is a celebrated Irish novelist, poet and playwright who used both the English and Gaelic Irish languages in his work. Born in Dublin in 1923, Behanâs family were staunch Republicans and Behan joined âFianna Ãireannâ, the youth arm of the IRA at the age of just fourteen. Behan went on to volunteer for the Irish Republican Army. In addition to their religious and political beliefs, Behanâs family also placed a strong emphasis on the history of their country and Brendan Behan was encouraged to learn patriotic ballads and read classic Irish literature from a young age.
At 16 Brendan Behan joined the IRA which led to time in youth offending institutions in Ireland and the UK. Whilst incarcerated Behan studied the Irish language and became fluent. Released in 1946, Behan moved around Ireland and spent time in Paris, until his first play, âThe Quare fellowâ hit the stage in Dublin in 1954. In 1956 the play moved to Londonâs famous theatre workshop run by Joan Littlewood and gained Behan a formidable reputation. Amongst Behanâs most famous works are his autobiographical novel âBorstal Boyâ and the play âRichardâs Cork Legâ which was produced on the radio to wide acclaim.