25 Brendan Behan Quotes From The Hilarious Irish Writer

If you are looking for quips with character, look no further than our Brendan Behan quotes. 

Brendan Behan is one of Ireland’s most celebrated writers.

Find out more about this prolific poet with the quotes below. 

Who was Brendan Behan?

Brendan Francis Aidan Behan was an Irish poet, novelist, playwright, and activist. 

He is considered by many as one of the greatest Irish writers of all time. 

Check out these interesting Brendan Behan facts below:

  • Behan was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army. 
  • He became fluent in the Irish language while in prison.
  • He was placed in a youth prison as a teenager for his political activity.  

Many incarcerated people end up back in the system after serving their time. 

Behan did not let his arrest or prison time stop his momentum. 

By 1954, his first play, The Quare Fellow, premiered in Dublin and was a hit. 

He would gain notoriety for his work at Littlewood’s Theater Workshop in London. 

Behan wrote plays in both Gaelic and English, and his work was successful domestically and internationally. 

His autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was an international bestseller. 

Did Behan have a drinking problem?

Behan struggled with his health for a large part of his life. 

Alcohol abuse, coupled with complications from diabetes, ultimately took his life. 

He once joked,  “I only take a drink on two occasions;  when I’m thirsty and when I’m not.”

And while that might sound crash, you have to remember this comment is from a man who has seen his fair share of challenges and setbacks. 

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He once said, “To get enough to eat was regarded as an achievement. To get drunk was a victory.” 

Brendan Behan was the everyday person’s poet

He is remembered for his larger-than-life personality, but Behan always remained connected to his roots. 

He once shared, “I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.”

Learn more about his bubbly poet with our Brendan Behan quotes below. 

Short Brendan Behan quotes about letting the good times roll

Behan was known for his passion for life and good times. 

1. “I am a daylight atheist.” — Brendan Behan

2. “I am a drinker with writing problems.” — Brendan Behan

3. “It is a good deed to forget a poor joke.” — Brendan Behan

4. “There were good men lost on both sides.” — Brendan Behan

5. “Ah, bless you, Sister, may all your sons be bishops.” — Brendan Behan

The top Brendan Beghan quotes about Irish identity

Behan was skilled at expressing his culture’s perspective. 

6. “The Irish are a very popular race, with themselves.” — Brendan Behan

7. “If it was raining soup, the Irish would go out with forks.” — Brendan Behan

8. “I say myself no depressed words, just depressed minds.” — Brendan Behan

9. “One drink is too many for me, and a thousand not enough.” — Brendan Behan

10. “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.” — Brendan Behan

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The best Brendan Behan quotes about drinking

Behan was fond of a refreshing beverage. 

11. “I saw a notice which said, ‘Drink Canada Dry,’ and I’ve just started.” — Brendan Behan

12. “I only take drink on two occasions;  when I’m thirsty and when I’m not.” — Brendan Behan

13. “It’s a queer world, God knows, but the best we have to be going on with. ” — Brendan Behan

14. “To get enough to eat was regarded as an achievement. To get drunk was a victory.” — Brendan Behan

15. “The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink, and somebody to love you.” — Brendan Behan

You will also enjoy our article on Mahmoud Darwish quotes.

Famous Brendan Behan quotes about reclaiming what was lost

Behan was proud of his heritage and wanted the best for his people. 

16. “Other people have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis.” — Brendan Behan

17. “I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn’t make it worse.” — Brendan Behan

18. “They took away our land, our language, and our religion; but they could never harness our tongues.” — Brendan Behan

19. “The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs a lot less.” — Brendan Behan

20. “It’s not that the Irish are cynical. It’s rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.” — Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan quotes and sayings to live by

Let’s close our list with these insightful Brendan Behan quotes. 

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21. “What the hell difference does it make, left or right?” — Brendan Behan

22. “Shakespeare said pretty well everything and what he left out, James Joyce, with a nudge from myself, put in.” — Brendan Behan

23. “I was court-martialled in my absence, and sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my absence.” — Brendan Behan

24. “New York is my Lourdes, where I go for spiritual refreshment; a place where you’re least likely to be bitten by a wild goat.” — Brendan Behan

25. “Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.” — Brendan Behan

Have the courage to express your truth 

Brendan Behan used his pen to encourage readers to find their happy place and live their truth.

What is your favorite Behan quote?

Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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