This is a fascinating little memoir of Hamilton's early years. A "Free Ireland" father, and a German mother, he and his siblings spoke only "Irish" (Gaelic) or German at home, and English when their father was not around to hear them. At one point he describes some other children playing cowboys and indians in the street, but he could not join in because cowboys and indians could not possibly be played in the Irish language..... They were loved and cared for, but during the course of the book various beatings were meted out by their father for not speaking Irish: he even made his own life difficult by wanting to make a little more money than his job paid and various schemes were put into practice. Most failed because of his insistence of only dealing with people who would pronounce his Gaelic name properly (and most couldn't). His mother, a gentle soul with a dark secret, came to Ireland after WW2 and only rarely went back to visit family and friends in Germany and was homesick for long periods of time.
There are some nice little insights into recent history here - how non-Nazi supporters had to act during Hitler's rule, and how kind those people tried to be if they could. His mother referred to the Nazis as "the fist people" and it's easy to see why. Then there was the building of the Berlin Wall - up in the 1960s, gone by the late 1980s; and the blowing up of Nelson's column in Dublin. I found some parts rather harrowing, but Hamilton has such a wonderful writing style here that I found it quite magical too.