Stamp marks the 50th anniversary of 'The Borstal Boy's' death
Stamp unveiled by Behan’s daughter at the GPO
20 March, 2014: A new commemorative stamp marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Brendan Behan, one of the most influential Irish literary figures of the 20th century, was unveiled by his daughter, Blanaid Walker, at the GPO today. Her son Rupert (13), grandson of Behan also attended.
Speaking at the GPO, his daughter said it was a great honour for the family to have their father’s literary legacy marked by way of a stamp:
“I am so proud to be here today in the GPO unveiling this very special stamp. It is a fitting honour for Brendan to be celebrated and remembered in this way. The range and depth of his literary prowess was beginning to be realised and he was really just coming into his own when illness cost him his life. It’s still a source of great sadness that he died at such a young age but his legacy endures, and I hope that people all over the world will continue to appreciate and enjoy his stories, plays, poems and songs” she added
Brendan Behan was born in Dublin on February 9, 1923. His passion for literature, in which he was immersed from a very young age, together with his strong nationalist political views are often attributed to his mother’s republican beliefs and his father’s love of Irish literary works. Aged just 14, an apprentice house painter, he joined Fianna Éireann, and became a contributor to The United Irishman.
He was found to be in possession of explosives in England in 1939 and sentenced to three years in a borstal detention centre, making good use of its library to continue his literary education. Likewise, during a subsequent imprisonment in Ireland, he became a fluent speaker of the Irish language
Behan’s breakthrough came in 1954 when a production of his play The Quare Fellow ran for six months in Dublin’s Pike Theatre. In 1958, Joan Littlewood’s production of The Hostage, and English adaptation of his second play, An Giall, led to success in London and New York. Behan’s autobiographical Borstal Boy which featured chapters on his prison life became a bestseller following its publication in 1958.
Brendan Behan died in Dublin on this day (20th March), 1964 and newspapers at the time described his funeral as the biggest since those of Michael Collins and Charles Stewart Parnell.
The 60c stamp featuring a vintage bromide print of Behan, by photographer Ida Kar, was designed by Irish design outfit ‘Conor & David’. The new stamp and special First Day Cover can be viewed and purchased at the GPO Irish Stamps Shop, all main post offices and online at www.irishstamps.ie
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