Brendan Behan in Paris

Bronze Sculpture of Brendan Behan in Dublin

Photo Credit: William Murphy

This documentary reveals new audio archive and interview material on Brendan Behan’s time in Paris during the late 1940s and early ‘50s, including an interview with the writer that has never been previously broadcast. Behan reveals the influence Paris had on him as a writer and the opportunity it gave him to develop his work.

The significance of Behan’s years there are undervalued and overlooked. Paris gave Behan the confidence to produce experimental work that he dared not present in Ireland. Recognition as a writer and intellectual freedom stimulated the creativity that would lead to his later works such as Borstal Boy and The Quare Fellow. The documentary retraces Behan’s steps from impoverished writer living on his wits in post-war Paris to being celebrated in the city he described as "the most civilised in the world".

The documentary is co-produced by Deirdre McMahon and Tim Desmond.  You can listen to or download the documentary on the RTÉ website.

Listen to the documentary here.

Deirdre McMahon has worked as a producer and project manager in radio, theatre and film. As a mature student she obtained a BA in English and an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama from UCD. She is currently completing a doctorate on Brendan Behan and European Modernism supported by the Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship. Deirdre has contributed essays on Behan's work to Reading Brendan Behan edited by John McCourt and the Eugene O'Neill Review. 

Tim Desmond grew up in Cork city becoming a teenager just as punk exploded onto the music scene and not too long before the pope came to Ireland. 

After an initial involvement in ‘pirate’ radio in the early 1980s, Tim joined the great exodus out of Ireland, moving to the UK in 1985. He returned to Ireland and set up in business, until at the age of 38 he decided to return to education and re-enter the media.

Tim studied Social Science and journalism as a mature student in UCC and was taken on full time by RTÉ Radio after graduating from college. Before joining the Doc On One team full time, Tim made a number of award-winning documentaries. Documentary making took him across Asia, Africa and Central America, with a particular focus on issues of social justice and the legacy of war. He now works full time with the Documentary On One team. He produces his own documentaries and supervises the production of documentaries with independent documentary-makers.