The greatest Irish writer of his generation who wrote the critically acclaimed Borstal Boy and The Quare Fellow described himself as “a drinker with a writing problem”.
Raised on whiskey by his maternal grandmother because “it was good for the worms”, Behan achieved national notoriety with a series of drunken appearances, most notably in 1956, when he appeared alongside American actor Jackie Gleason on a British TV chat show during which he didn`t manage a single comprehensible word. Gleeson described the incident saying: “It wasn’t an act of God, it was an act of Guinness”
As one of the worst decisions ever by an advertising agency, Behan was hired to write an advertising slogan for Guinness and was given half a dozen kegs of their product for inspiration. After a month the company asked the legendary writer what he had come up with.
Behan replied “Guinness makes you drunk”.
There is also a wonderful story of when he was visiting Canada in 1961 and he was asked by a reporter “What brings you to Canada, Mr Behan?” To which Behan is supposed to have replied “Well now, I was in a bar in Dublin and it had one of those signs, and it said “Drink Canada Dry”, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”
He collapsed at the Harbour Lights bar in Dublin on the 18th March 1964 and died a few days later, aged forty one.