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Brendan Behan's Island: An Irish Sketch-book

From the snug of the 'Shaky Man' (probably the nearest pub to Guinness Brewery in Dublin) Brendan Behan take us on a tour of his native country. Not very much topographical information is imparted perhaps and even the Georgian architecture for which Dublin is deservedly famous is scarcely mentioned: 'Good architecture,' Mr. Behan reports as architect friend as saying 'is invisible.' Mr Behan is less interested in things than in people and a galaxy of characters and stories about the inhabitants of that Augustan city cross his pages. But Brendan has been outside Dublin from time to time as London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Montreal, San Francisco and Mexico City can well witness. His investigations among the aborigines of those famed cities are not his concern in this book, however: those anthropological investigations must await another occasion for the telling. Here he regales us with his views on Dublin, the North of Ireland, Galway and the Aran Islands and the counties of the south - always with an eye on the people and their habits rather than on the places themselves. He was accompanied on many expeditions by Paul Hogarth, whose drawings complement the spirit of the text as no other artist's could have done. Intellectuality stimulating, Mr. Behan discourses on the evils of drinking potheen, the mores of Limerick girls, storytellers in the last bastion of Gaelic culture on the Aran Islands, the Irish middle-classes and what he calls 'the Anglo-Irish Horse-Protestants. Enlivened with song, poem, story, and Paul Hogarth's drawings, this book tells a lot about Ireland but tells us even more about that fascinating human Behan.


Dublin (403)


Ireland (2,156)