Thursday 22 February 2018

Family's stamp of approval as Brendan Behan honoured

Blanaid Walker and her son Rupert (13) at the launch of the new Brendan Behan stamp in the GPO in Dublin.
Blanaid Walker and her son Rupert (13) at the launch of the new Brendan Behan stamp in the GPO in Dublin.
Blanaid Walker and son Rupert age 13 at the launch of the new stamp in the GPO in Dublin
Laura Butler

Laura Butler

THE daughter of playwright Brendan Behan has told of her delight that her father's life and work has been celebrated with a commemorative stamp.

On the 50th anniversary of the literary figure's death, An Post yesterday unveiled the new Brendan Behan stamp, 200,000 of which have been produced.

Blanaid Walker flew over from the UK for the occasion and said she was "thrilled" to see the limited-edition 60c stamp come into use two years after her initial suggestion.

The idea originated with Behan's grandsons and the family did not know when the stamp would be launched until they were contacted at their home in Oxford last Christmas.


"My two boys Guy and Rupert were the ones to write the letter two years ago and I did a follow-up," Ms Walker said.

"The initial reaction was not as positive as I thought and it was put on hold. I was disappointed. Oscar Wilde has had two stamps and even my father's contemporaries have had stamps in their honour, so it seemed a little unfair that he hadn't had one," she said.

"I think they put it on the back boiler and then changed their minds – but I am really thrilled his anniversary has been celebrated."

Ms Walker was joined by her husband Matthew and her 13-year-old son Rupert for the unveiling at the GPO.

She told this newspaper that her father, who died at the age of 41, would be "amused and honoured" that he has been remembered in such a way.

"I think it's a fitting tribute to his talent and to his short life. If he had lived for another 20 years, who knows the fantastic work he could have achieved?"

Behan first came to prominence with his play 'The Quare Fellow' and later achieved success with his autobiography 'Borstal Boy'. His daughter was just four months old when he died. She grew up on Anglesea Road, Dublin, and left Ireland at the age of 21.

"I was only a baby when he died, but I was very aware of him growing up. He was still a well-known figure, whereas now he's more a historical figure," Ms Walker said.

The Brendan Behan stamp's first day cover, which features the writer's quote "there is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary", has been marked with the date of issue and will no doubt become a collector's item.

Aidan Murphy, philatelic manager at An Post, said the stamp was an appropriate way to toast the life of "one of Ireland's foremost 20th-Century literary giants".

An Post is expected to issue a stamp in honour of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney in August, on the anniversary of his death.

Irish Independent

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