No such thing as bad publicity as Behan memorial stamp issued

Daughter ‘really pleased’ as anniversary stamp for Dublin writer launched in Dublin


Brendan Behan would be “amused and honoured” that he was being remembered on a stamp, his daughter Blanaid Walker said this morning. For her part, she thought it “absolutely fantastic”.

The 60c stamp bromide print of the writer was launched at the GPO this morning - the 50th anniversary of his death in 1964 at the age of 41.

Its limited edition first day cover features one of his best known quotes, that “there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary”.

The idea for the stamp originated with his two grandsons, 16-year-old Guy Walker and his 13-year-old brother Rupert, who live with mother Blanaid and father Matthew near Oxford.

As Blanaid recalled it, “The boys wrote the initial letter two years ago, and I did a follow-up.” However, “the reaction was not as positive as I thought. I was disappointed. There had been stamps celebrating Oscar Wilde, Flann O’Brien and others. It seemed a little unfair. And I did say I was disappointed.”

Then she was contacted last Christmas to be told the stamp would be launched today. She said she was “really pleased” with it.

In 1964 when her father died, she was “just a baby”, but she and her mother Beatrice continued to live at their home on Anglesea Road until she was 21. Since then she has been in the UK, where worked in TV production until retirement. “My mother never left Ireland. She died about 22 years ago, also in March.”

She planned this afternoon to the statue of her father erected on the Royal Canal bank by Dublin City Council in 2003. “I haven’t seen it. No one told me about it at the time. I told them that if they were doing anything else to let me know and I would come over.” She had also heard this morning there was to be a ceremony at her father’s grave in Glasnevin Cemetery today - but knew no more than that.

Her son Rupert is a prefect at St Hugh’s preparatory school in Oxford. He was “brought up” knowing about his grandfather and had seen his play The Hostage in London, but had not read anything by him. Earlier, his mother had said he was too young. Commenting on his grandfather, Rupert thought it “a shame his life was so short - and the manner of his death”.

At the launch this morning, An Post philatelic manager Aidan Murphy said the stamp was “to celebrate the life of Brendan Behan, one of Ireland’s foremost 20th century literary giants”.

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