In the early 1950s my mother worked in Dublin at a famous restaurant – Jammet’s. For most of its 66 years it was able to describe itself as ‘the only French restaurant in Ireland’. It was opened in 1901 by two  leading  French  chefs, the Jammet brothers,  and was later run by Michel’s son Louis and his artist wife Yvonne. From 1927 onwards it was based in Nassau Street, which runs alongside Trinity College at the foot of Grafton Street. These days, it’s where The Porterhouse pub is located.

Back in the 1950s the Grafton Street area was the ‘Left Bank’ of Dublin where the likes of Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh could be found drinking in pubs on a regular basis. My mother tells many stories about Behan and Kavanagh wandering in after closing time for a late supper, almost certainly on someone else’s tab. The two of them may have been drinking partners, but there was little love lost. Kavanagh went to Behan’s funeral and when it was said there wouldn’t be anyone quite like Brendan ever again, Patrick thanked God for small mercies. In October 1959, Kavanagh had a dip in the Grand Canal (drunkenly fell in? thrown in?) and Behan allegedly said that he wished he could lay his hands on the bollocks that pulled him out. There’s a story that they met in a bookshop and decided to go for a drink nearby, but by the time they’d worked out that B was barred here, and P was barred there, they ended up drinking in far-off Ballsbridge.

They say Kavanagh would visibly shudder at the mention of Behan’s name and he referred to Behan as “evil incarnate”. No-one seems to know exactly what caused the falling-out, but it would seem that it was more a case that they never really got on in the first place. They were at odds on most things. Behan seemed to delight in winding up Kavanagh as the culchie (country man) from Monaghan. Or the “Fucker from Mucker” as he put it.

The play “Rare Auld Times” imagines Behan and Kavanagh together in a pub. It tells a story where Behan was once drinking in a Dundalk pub. He went to the toilets and found sheets of torn newspaper for toilet paper. To his surprise, there was an article and a photograph of him on one sheet. So he folded it and put it in his pocket. “No Dundalk cultchie was going to wipe his arse on my face”.

Kavanagh wrote the poem “On Raglan Road” when he spotted a young women walking past his flat on her way to medical college at UCD. Her name was Hilda Moriarty and she was from Dingle in county Kerry. He got introduced and they went out a few times to poetry readings in Grafton Street, but it was not a likely match. She married a country solicitor and future politician instead of the shabby aged and dipsomaniac poet. Hence the lines “on Grafton Street in November”.

Behan got married in 1955 to Beatrice Salkeld who was the daughter and grand-daughter of well-known Anglo-Irish artists. She was an extremely shy and patient woman by all accounts. In 1963 she literally “walked in Brendan Behan’s footsteps” up and down the streets of New York, persuading him to stop drinking again and come home to Dublin. They had a daughter called Blanaid who was born in late 1963 and named after her great grand-mother. Brendan died, aged 41, only a year after their daughter was born. He’d drunk himself into a diabetic state.

These days in Dublin if you’re looking for a posh French meal there’s always L’Gueuleton (“The Feast”) on Fade Street.