BRENDAN BEHAN’S GRAVE IN GLASNEVIN CEMETERY
Apparently it is a custom to leave a glass or bottle of Guinness at Brendan Behan’s grave on his birthday which makes more sense than leaving a bunch of flowers.
Brendan Francis Aidan Behan (christened Francis Behan) 9 February 1923 – 20 March 1964) was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist and playwright who wrote in both English and Irish. He was named by Irish Central as one of the greatest Irish writers of all time.
Behan found fame difficult. He had long been a heavy drinker (describing himself, on one occasion, as “a drinker with a writing problem” and claiming “I only drink on two occasions—when I’m thirsty and when I’m not”) and developed diabetes in the early 1950s but this was not diagnosed until 1956. As his fame grew, so too did his alcohol addiction. This combination resulted in a series of famously drunken public appearances, on both stage and television. Behan’s favourite drink was champagne and sherry.
Behan had married Beatrice Salkeld (daughter of the painter Cecil Salkeld) in 1955. A daughter, Blanaid, was born in 1963. Love, however, was not enough to bring Behan back from his alcoholic abyss. By early March 1964, the end was in sight. Collapsing at the Harbour Lights bar, he was transferred to the Meath Hospital in central Dublin, where he died, aged 41.
Behan had a one-night stand in 1961 with Valerie Danby-Smith, who was Ernest Hemingway’s personal assistant and later married his son, Dr. Gregory Hemingway. Nine months later, Valerie gave birth to a son she named Brendan. Brendan Behan died two years later, having never met his son.
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