Dominic Behan

Life
1928-1989 [var. 1923]; brother of Brendan Behan and Brian Behan; son of Kathleen Behan; left Ireland in 1947; lived in London and Glasgow; active in trade union movement in Dublin and London; contrib. to Life, Hibernia, Sunday Standard, Dublin Evening Herald, Scotsman, and London Evening Standard; as well as TV documentaries and broadcasting for BBC, Tyneside [Tyne Tees]; RTÉ, and Scottish TV; a play, Posterity Be Damned, performed in Dublin (Gaiety 28 Feb. 1960) and moved to London (March 20 1960) where it was the scene of drunken demonstrations by Brendan; issued My Brother Brendan (1965); issued Teems of Times and Happy Returns (1961), an autobiography; among numerous ballads his best-known is the “Patriot Game”. DIW FDA

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Works
Teems of Times and Happy Returns (London: Heinemann 1961) [autobiog.]; My Brother Brendan (London: Leslie Frewin 1965), 159pp.; with George Tardios, A Morden Tower Reading (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Morden Tower Publications 1976), 19pp.; Milligan: The Life and Times of Spike Milligan (London: Methuen 1988); The Public World of Parable Jones (London: Collins 1989), 206pp. [novel].

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Quotations
The Patriot Game”: ‘Come all you young rebels and list while I sing / For love of one’s land is a dangerous thing / It banishes fear with the speed of a flame / And it makes us all part of the patriot game // My name is O’Hanlon and I’ve just gone sixteen / My home is in Monaghan and there I was weaned ... / I was taught all my life to hold England to blame / So I became part of the Patriot Game.//It’s barely two years since I wandered away / With the local battalion of the cold IRA / I’d read of our heroes and wanted the same / To play up my part in the Patriot Game. / They told me how Connolly was shot in the chair / his wounds from the battle all bleeding and bare / His fine body twisted and battered and lame / They soon made me part of the Patriot’s Game.//This Ireland of mine has been too long half free / Six counties are under John Bull’s monarchy / And still there are people who are greatly to blame / For shirking their part in the Patriot Game.//And now as I lie here my body all holes / I think of those traitors who bartered and sold / I’m sorry my rifle could not do the same / To those Quislings who sold out the Patriot Game.’ (Quoted and attributed in Rona M. Fields, A Society on the Run, A Psychology of Northern Ireland, Penguin Edn. 1973; see note, infra).

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Reference
Robert Hogan, Seven Irish Plays (Minnesota UP 1967), Introduction, cites Dominic Behan as having written “Mother Ireland, get off my back” (from Posterity Be Damned).

Doherty & Hickey, A Chronology of Irish History Since 1500 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1989), tells that “The Patriot Game” is said to be about Sean South.

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Notes
Patriot games? Behan's ballad “Patriot Game” is sometimes described as a ‘cautionary’ account given by a young IRA-man, dying of wounds, of his youthful nationalist enthusiasm and the callow expenditure of his life for ‘mother Ireland.’ (Rona M. Fields, A Society on the Run, A Psychology of Northern Ireland, Penguin Edn. 1973). It but is not always so received. The question arises whether Behan’s version is the original or a modification with different and more pacific intention, pointing out the the folly of militant republicanism, or simply a naive effusion heaping blame on the Irish politicians mentioned by Dervla Murphy (infra).

Dervla Murphy (A Place Apart, 1978), quotes two stanza of “The Patriot Game” in variant form (cf. supra), as follows: ‘My name is O’Hanlon and I’ve just gone sixteen / My home is in Monaghan, there I was weaned/I learned all my life, cruel England to blame/ And so I’m a part of the Patriot Game.//I don’t mind a bit if I shoot down police/They are lackeys of war, never guardians of peace./But at deserters I’ll never let aim/The rebels who sold out the Patriot Game.’ Murphy calls the ballad and its kind ‘excrable’ and assocaiates it with the death of two IRA volunteers in the raid on Brookeborough Police Barracks of 1957, and remarks: ‘One is immediately struck by the unwitting accuracy of that phrase “the Patriot Game”. By now militant republicanism has become just that [...]’, adding that the rebels in the final line are ‘Southern politicians who accepted partition.’ (p.176.)