The twenty-eighth of April, 2011: an Irish IRA man addresses his dinner

IRA tyro Brendan Behan was seventeen when, in 1940, he was sentenced to three years at a borstal after being caught with what he called ‘conjuring tricks’ and what anyone else would call ‘home-made explosives’.

Here he is enjoying his Sunday lunch in the slammer:

They came with the dinner, and it was roast meat with baked potatoes and bread and cabbage, and I smiled at the screw, taking it from him at the door, and he gave me a knife and fork, too, from a box of them he had, and I slammed out my door and sat down to the dinner. I nearly spoke to it and said, “Dinner, I shall never forget you,” and I didn’t forget it either and never will.

That’s from Borstal Boy (Hutchinson, 1967).


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