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- When I came back to Dublin, I was courtmartialled in my absence and sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my absence.
- Hostage (1958)
- He was born an Englishman and remained one for years.
- Hostage (1958)
- An author's first duty is to let down his country.
- As quoted in The Guardian (1960), and also in The Cynic's Lexicon: A Dictionary of Amoral Advice (1984), by Jonathon Green, p. 20
- There's no bad publicity except an obituary.
- As quoted in The World of Brendan Behan (1966) by Sean McCann, p. 56
- Variant: There's no bad publicity except an obituary notice.
- The sun was in mind to come out but having a look at the weather it was in lost heart and went back again.
- Confessions of an Irish Rebel (1967 )
- It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.
- As quoted in Brendan Behan, Interviews and Recollections (1982), Vol. 2, edited by E. H. Mikhail, p. 186
- Mother, they would praise my balls if I hung them high enough.
- Speaking of newspaper critics, as quoted in Mother of all the Behans: The story of Kathleen Behan as told to Brian Behan (1984) by Kathleen Behan and Brian Behan, p. 119
- I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don't respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.
- As quoted in The Harper Book of Quotations (1993) edited by Robert I. Fitzhenry, p. 420
- I only drink on two occasions — When I am thirsty and when I'm not.
- As quoted in Malcolm Arnold: Rogue Genius (2004) by Anthony Meredith and Paul Harris, p. 337
- As regards drink, I can only say that in Dublin during the Depression when I was growing up, drunkenness was not regarded as a social disgrace. To get enough to eat was regarded as an achievement. To get drunk was a victory.
- As quoted in A Contemporary Reader: essays for today and tomorrow, Harry William Rudman, Irving Rosenthal, Ronald Press (1961), p. 334
Quotes about Behan
- Brendan described himself as a drinker with a writing problem, but what he really was a painter with a writing problem. No matter in what country of the globe he resided, or how many luminaries he met, the would always be a painter in his soul. If he had remained one for his livelihood, he could still be alive today.
- Brian Behan, in The Brothers Behan (1998) p. 15
- Brendan lit a bonfire under the arse of Irish literature. He took it by the scruff of the neck and dragged it kicking and screaming into the 20th century.
- Brian Behan, in The Brothers Behan (1998) p. 23
- If the English hoard words like misers, the Irish spend them like sailors; and Brendan Behan … sends language out on a swaggering spree, ribald, flushed, and spoiling for a fight.
- Kenneth Tynan, as quoted in Aspects of the Irish Theatre No. 1 (1972), by Patrick Rafroidi, p. 133
- [Brendan Behan was] too young to die, but too drunk to live.
- Rene MacColl, Daily Express, London, March 21, 1964