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Judge gets novel out...after Behan burnt his first effort 50 years ago!

ONE of the country's best-known judges has published his debut novel -- 50 years after his first effort was burned in a drinking session with Brendan Behan.

Retired judge James O'Sullivan (78) has realised a life-long ambition with the publication of The Stiletto -- a novel based on evidence he encountered in almost 40 years in the courts.

The judge's first effort was destroyed at a house party by his drinking buddy, legendary writer Brendan Behan.

Mr O'Sullivan told the Herald: "I remember we met at Brendan's uncle's cottage at Portarlington, Co Laois, where we sat before a blazing fire, with a bucket of spring water and bottles of whiskey.

"I gave Brendan the loose-leafed book and he began to read aloud. After some time he took my hand and said 'you've written a best-seller'."

But the judge added: "What with the heat of the fire and the whiskey, we fell asleep and when we woke up it was discovered that the book had slipped off Brendan's knee and into the fire whilst we slept. It was burnt to a cinder."

The Stiletto is available for sale at www.originalwriting.ie, priced €11.99.