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Behan family attends launch of DIT Brendan Behan Award

Posted: 12 April, 2016

A lunchtime lecture by Des Geraghty today recalled the literary genius of Brendan Behan to an audience that included the writer’s daughter Blanaid Walker and her two sons, Guy and Rupert.

Blanaid Walker, daughter of Brendan Behan, at the statue of her father on the Royal Canal

The event took place in DIT Grangegorman to inaugurate an award in Behan’s honour.  The Award, which is a student initiative, will be presented to individuals who make a significant contribution to the creative arts and to cultural life.  Ms Walker said she believed this to be the first Award in her father’s name, and she said the family was delighted for him to be remembered in this way.

Geraghty interspersed his his wide-ranging talk about Behan’s life with recitations in English and Irish of the author’s poetry and songs, and also read his own poem about Behan.  He concluded with a moving rendition of “The Laughing Boy”.  Final year students of Drama at DIT performed an excerpt from their recent production of The Hostage, while three members of the BIMM Society sang “The Auld Triangle” in harmony.

The audience for the event included DIT students and staff, and members of the public with an interest in Behan. Also present was sculptor John Coll who designed the statue of Brendan Behan at a bench on the banks of the Royal Canal at Binn’s Bridge.  Coll, who has agreed to design the DIT Brendan Behan Award, said “Behan is for me a mould breaker – I’m just a mould maker! The fact that his notoriety eclipsed his creativity in his later years should not take from that original meteoric burst of creativity which this award will celebrate, and the inspirational stardust scattered from its tail.” 

Formally launching the Award, Professor Brian Norton, President of DIT, said “It may come as a surprise to many people to know that in 1937 Brendan Behan attended what was then the Bolton Street Technical School.  As an unenthusiastic apprentice painter, he took a course in “House-painting, Sign-writing and Decoration”.  He earned six shillings a week in that role, but it wasn’t really for him, and I think we should admit that he was expelled from Bolton St before completing the full course of instruction!  Maybe that was a good thing for Irish literature”.

On hearing that her father had been expelled from his course, Ms Walker agreed that “Bolton Street’s loss was literature’s gain” but that this Award in his honour would not only honour his literary accomplishments, but would also celebrate the link between DIT and the renowned Dublin author and playwright. 

The DIT Brendan Behan Award will be presented for the first time later this year.

Diarmuid McCleary, Art and Design Society, Mark O’Reilly, President of DIT Societies Forum, and Esther Kleise, DIT DramSoc prepare to launch the DIT Brendan Behan Award