Christy Brown Memorial Site

The legacy of the Irish Novelist & Poet Christy Brown


Christy’s Bio

Christy Brown (1932-1981) was one of 22 children (13 surviving) born to his father, a bricklayer from Crumlin and his mother who was the constant support during his your years.

Christy Brown was born in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin in the summer of 1932 to a working-class Irish family.

After his birth, doctors discovered that he had severe
cerebral palsy, a serious neurological disorder which left him almost entirely paralyzed by spasticity in his limbs.

Though urged to commit him to a
convalescent hospital, Brown's parents were unswayed and subsequently determined to raise him at home with their other children.

During Brown's adolescence, social worker Katrina Delahunt became aware of his story and began to visit the Brown family regularly, while bringing Christy books and painting materials as he had, beginning years earlier, demonstrated keen interest in the arts and literature and also extremely impressive physical dexterity since, soon after discovering several household books, Christy had learned to both write and draw himself with the only limb over which he had unequivocal control — his left leg.
[1] Brown quickly matured into a serious artist.

Although Brown famously received almost no formal schooling during his youth, he did attend St Brendan's School-Clinic in
Sandymount intermittently. At St. Brendan's he came in contact with Dr. Robert Collis, a noted author. Collis discovered that Brown was also a natural novelist and later Collis helped use his own connections to publish My Left Foot, by then a long-gestating autobiographical account of Brown's struggle with everyday life amidst the vibrant culture of Dublin.[2]

When My Left Foot became a literary sensation, one of the many people who wrote letters to Brown was married American woman Beth Moore. Brown and Moore became regular correspondents and in 1960 Brown holidayed in
North America and stayed with Moore at her home in Connecticut.[3] When they met again in 1965 they began an affair.

Brown journeyed to Connecticut once more to finish his "
magnus opus," which he had been developing for years. He finally did so in 1967 with help from Moore, who introduced and administered a strict working regimen, mostly by denying him alcohol (on which Brown was dependent) until a day's work was completed.[4]

The book, titled
Down All the Days, was published in 1970 and was inscribed with a dedication to Moore that read, "For Beth, who with such gentle ferocity, finally whipped me into finishing this book..."[5] During this time, Brown's fame continued to spread internationally and he became a prominent celebrity.

Upon his return to Ireland, he was able to use proceeds from the sales of his books to design and move into a specially constructed home outside Dublin with his sister's family.
[6] Though Brown and Beth had planned to marry and live at together at the new home, and though Moore had informed her husband of these plans, it was around this time that Brown began an affair with English-woman Mary Carr, who he met at a party in London.[7]

Brown then terminated his affair with Moore and married Carr in 1972. They moved to
Kerry and then to Somerset. He continued to paint, write novels, poetry and plays. His 1974 novel, A Shadow on Summer, was based on his relationship with Moore, who he still considered a friend.[8]


While living in England, Brown's addiction to alcohol became more pronounced as his marriage to Mary Carr had, reportedly, become unhappy, and he died suddenly at his home in 1981.[9] The coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure, stating that Brown had succumbed to the effects of shock as a result of asphyxiation while eating a pork chop. Accusations were made by Brown's family that implied his death was precipitated by neglect that contributed to both his ill health and his demise.[10][11] He is buried in the Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.[12]

Literary Legacy

Brown's self-proclaimed masterpiece Down all the Days was a project drawn largely from a playful expansion of My Left Foot; it also became an international bestseller and published translations exist in fourteen languages.

The Irish Times reviewer Bernard Share claimed the work was "...the most important Irish novel since Ulysses." Like Joyce, Brown employed the stream-of-consciousness technique and sought to document Dublin's culture through the use of humor, accurate dialects and intricate character description. Down All the Days was followed by a series of other novels, including A Shadow on Summer (1972), Wild Grow the Lilies (1976) and A Promising Career (published posthumously in 1982). He also published three poetry collections,