Christopher (‘Christy’) Brown

(05/06/1932 - 07/09/1981)

Christy Brown, born on June 5, 1932, defied the limitations of cerebral palsy to become a prolific writer and artist, leaving an indelible mark on literature and the arts. Raised in a working-class family in Crumlin, Christy’s condition, which left him with control only over his left foot, did not deter his determination to be a chronicler of the human spirit.

Growing up as the twelfth child in a family of 22, at 54 Ferns Road, Christy’s father was a bricklayer, and many of his siblings followed in his footsteps. Despite his physical challenges, his mother Bridget recognized his potential and resisted institutionalising him, championing his right to stay with the family. Christy’s journey to self-expression began at the age of five when he grabbed a piece of chalk with his left foot, showcasing his innate ability to write.

Without formal education, Christy learned to communicate and write with support from his mother. His mischievous childhood escapades, chronicled in his memoir, reflected the resilience that would define his life. At 18, he decided to pen his life story, using his left foot to compose “The Reminisces of a Mental Defective.” The manuscript was initially challenging, but with assistance from Dr. Bob Collis and social worker Katriona Maguire, Christy received basic education and speech therapy.

In 1954, Christy’s autobiography, “My Left Foot,” was published, gaining international acclaim and later adapted into an Oscar-winning film. Despite the success, Christy yearned to be recognised for more serious literary works. His dedication to his craft led him to continue writing, even as he battled with alcoholism.

Christy’s relationship with Katriona Maguire and later with Beth Moore played crucial roles in his life. Beth’s influence supported him during the writing of “Down All The Days,” a groundbreaking novel that delved into themes of domestic abuse, poverty, and death in working-class Dublin. However, Christy’s decision to marry Mary Carr marked a tumultuous period in his life, marked by isolation and decline in artistic output.

In 1981, at the age of 49, Christy Brown passed away, choking on food at his home in Glastonbury, England. His legacy lives on through his inspirational story, depicted in literature, art, and film. Despite personal struggles, Christy Brown remains celebrated in Ireland and worldwide, remembered through the works of renowned artists like U2 and The Pogues, and immortalised in the film “My Left Foot” in which he was played by Daniel Day Lewis.

Person Photo
Connection with area: Writer, poet and painter who was born and lived on Stannaway Road.