Brian Finbar Oliver Plunkett Behan

(10/11/1926 - 02/11/2002)

Brian Behan (November 10, 1926 – November 2, 2002) was an Irish writer, public speaker, lecturer, and trade unionist, best known for his family ties, political activism, and literary contributions. Born in Dublin, he was the younger brother of renowned playwright Brendan Behan and the older brother of Dominic Behan who lived in Kildare road, Crumlin. His family’s strong ties to the Irish Republican cause, along with his brother Brendan’s fame as a playwright, significantly influenced Brian’s life.

Brian’s early years were marked by hardship and abuse, having been sent to the Artane Industrial School, an institution notorious for its mistreatment of inmates. His experiences there deeply affected him and later led to his efforts to seek compensation for the abuse he endured.

After his release, Brian Behan joined the Irish Army’s construction corps before moving to London in 1950. In the UK, he became a prominent trade union activist, leading strikes and engaging in political activities. He joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), traveled to Eastern Europe and China, and later left the CPGB in protest of the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Brian then aligned with the Trotskyist group known as The Club.

Brian’s career path led him to the Shell Centre site, where his activism and opposition to the Labour Party resulted in his arrest. He eventually founded the Socialist Labour League (SLL) but was later expelled for his growing unease with the group’s leader, Gerry Healy.

As his activism waned, Brian Behan turned to writing and teaching. He became a lecturer in media studies at the London College of Printing and authored several books, including “With Breast Expanded,” “Time To Go,” and “Mother of All The Behans,” inspired by his family’s life. “Mother of All The Behans” was particularly successful as a theatrical production.

In the later years of his life, Brian retired from teaching, lived in Brighton, and pursued an acting career. He passed away on November 2, 2002, leaving behind a legacy of political activism, literary contributions, and a unique perspective on his family’s life and the Irish Republican cause.

Person Photo
Connection with area: Writer, radical, and bohemian who lived in Kildare Road.