Behan memorial unveiled on Royal Canal

 

A sculpture of Brendan Behan was unveiled by the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, at Binn's Bridge on the banks of Dublin's Royal Canal in Drumcondra this afternoon.

The monument, sculpted by John Coll, is part of a multi-million euro makeover for the area and depicts Behan sitting on a bench, with a singing blackbird for company. The work is engraved with the titles of Behan's works, including the Irish poem "Uaigneas".

The Taoiseach said that the tribute to Behan was a very appropriate one and his contribution to the area should not be forgotten in it's regeneration.

"The Royal Canal has been very much part of the community here since 1700," said Mr Ahern.

"It went down in more recent times and now I think that the work that has gone for the last ten years or so and more recently the work in the National Development plan that's working to navigate it again right through to the Shannon is enormous.

"Brendan Behan was from Russsell Street, just down the road before they moved out to Crumlin. So its a good project. It brings back a life and a use to the canal that has not been there for a long time and that's the important thing about today.

Addressing the gathering Mr Ahern referred to Behan as "one of the few who was never lost for words, renowned for his frank and uninhibited manner of speaking, a manner that reflected a sharp insight, is wit for the overall philosophy that he had of life.

The ceremony was attended by various other public figures, including the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mr Royston Brady, actor and comedian Niall Tobin, and operatic trio, the Celtic tenors.

Also in attendance was Behan's only sister Mrs Carmel Paton who, accompanied by her daughter Jessie, was given a special mention by the Taoiseach.

Mrs Paton, who now lives in Sussex , described the occasion as "a very nice affair."

"The statue is very nice and I was very pleased to be here," added Mrs Paton. "It is a proud feeling today and everybody done him proud.

Sculptor John Coll said there were numerous reasons why Behan should be permanently commemorated on the canal this year, the 80th anniversary of his birth.

"There were so many aspects of Behan's life pointing towards the area . . . maybe it's bringing him back to his roots," he said.

Behan died on March 20th, 1964.