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We need a Brendan Behan walk to top up our appeal to tourists

For a writer who spent an unhealthy amount of time falling down due to excessive drinking, the Brendan Behan Walk sounds like a contradiction in terms.

But for a group of small business owners in a corner of Dublin's north inner city it might help them resurrect the fortunes of their area.

A barber shop, a bar and a chemist on the Lower Drumcondra Road have started a campaign to have a stretch from the Royal Canal to just before the railway bridge named after Behan.

They believe that renaming this section of the road after the writer, wit and raconteur who lived across the road in Russell Avenue, will put Lower Drumcondra on the tourist map.


Barber Ken Donnelly said the idea for "Brendan Walk" started with suggestions from the shop's customers.

"They kept telling me that Behan used to walk along here, get his haircut here, drink in the nearby pub. The customers kept wondering why that, while there is a statue on the canal to Behan, there is nothing else to mark the fact that he lived around here," said Ken.

A chemist has been located on the stretch since 1901 and in the hands of the Boles family since the early 1950s. David Boles said it was time to transform this corner of north Dublin into "our very own little cultural quarter".

"Joyce wrote in Portrait Of An Artist that Drumcondra was where the best English was spoken," he said.

"And we have had one of Ireland's most famous writers, Brendan Behan based here on our doorstep. We need more cultural tourist visitors.

"We have a statue along the canal which is, appropriately, surrounded by beer cans from the drinkers that congregate around there. What we really need now is for Bord Failte to put this quarter into its literature and website as 'Brendan Behan Walk'."

Anne Marie McGrath from McGrath's pub nearby said foreign tourists seemed to be more aware of the Behan connection to the area than Dubliners.

"We get a lot of Germans coming into the pub asking if Brendan Behan used to come in here for a drink when he lived around the area.

"A lot of the locals are surprised at this, some of them don't even know about the connection. I think it's a great idea to change this part of Drumcondra to 'Brendan Behan Walk.'