‘The Speckled People’ by Hugo Hamilton

The Speckled People is presently on at the Gate Theatre. I accidentally arrived there this afternoon, as opposed to the Gaiety Theatre, in order to find out when Country Girls by Edna O’Brien was arriving there.

As an avid RTE 1 radio listener I was somewhat cognizant of the background of The Speckled People as It got quite a lot media publicity when the novel came out a long while ago.

I have not as yet read the novel or seen the film.

I saw this very interesting Amazon review of the book and it sounds very inviting.

The son of a German mother and an Irish father, Hugo Hamilton grew up in Dublin in the 1950s wearing “lederhosen and Aran sweaters, smelling of rough wool and new leather, Irish on top and German below.” His family spoke both German and Irish, but English was strictly forbidden–even uttering a few words of the cursed language was enough to earn an often brutal punishment from their father, a staunch Irish nationalist. His father maintained that “your home is your language” and insisted that they be a model Irish family and an example for others to follow. Hamilton and his siblings were not even permitted to play with children who did not speak Irish exclusively–a particular problem in a country where English is the primary language. Ironically, he was taunted mercilessly for his German heritage and children jeered him with cries of “Eichmann” and “Heil Hitler.” He was even put on “trial” once by a gang of kids who sentenced him death by snowball firing squad. This confusing quest to discover his identity and to gain an understanding of his family history is at the heart of The Speckled People, a profoundly touching and beautifully written memoir.

The Speckled People – skoool.ie :: exam centre

I did not hesitate to avail of a matinee seat tomorrow afternoon. As I believe it was meant to be. I had taken some photos of the Gate Theatre in the past, when A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was playing and had only wished, then, that I’d seen the Tennesse Williams play. So will make up for it tomorrow. [When I lived in the country, I always went to the annual amateur dramatic shows. I lapped them up no end. It was the same too when I lived in London. Am a real theatre buff].

The Speckled People is getting rave reviews. See: opening link.


The Speckled People at the Gate is Directed by Patrick Mason

Set and Costume Design by Joe Vanek

Cast Stephen Brennan, Denis Conway, Julika Jenkins, John Kavanagh, Tadhg Murphy and Marion O’Dwyer

Hugo Hamilton’s best-selling memoir, The Speckled People, has been hailed as an ‘instant classic’ and has been translated into twenty languages. The Gate Theatre is delighted to present this world première of the author’s adaptation of this extraordinary work. The Speckled People tells the profoundly moving story of a young boy trapped in a language war. Set in 1950’s Ireland, this is a gripping, poignant, and often a very funny family drama.

As a young boy, Hamilton struggled with what it means to be speckled, “half and half…Irish on top and German below.

Caught between his fiercely nationalistic father and his warm-hearted German mother, Hugo must free himself from his parents’ secrets before he can find a place where he belongs. 

The Gate Theatre, in Dublin, was founded in 1928 by Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir. [It’s around the corner from the Rotunda hospital where I first saw the light of day].

The Speckled People played to a packed audience; which comprised mainly of older people, like myself. I guess it was understandable. given that it was a matinee show. The audience was very receptive to the humour and the sadness, which was well timed balanced.


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