Hugo Hamilton, the Co. Dublin born actor and Rooney Prize winner in 1992, was the keynote writer at the recent Sociological Association of Ireland, Annual Conference, at WIT recently. Under the title of What’s The Difference In Being Irish? He was interviewed by Tom Inglis, a noted Sociology writer, whose work on the Kerry Babies tribunal is a seminal document.

Hamilton’s mother was a German who came to Ireland in 1949 and married a militant nationalist who insisted his children spoke only German or Irish but not English. Hamilton’s novels like Headbanger, Sad Bastard and Sucking Diesel caught the mood of the late nineties, early noughties and his curious childhood was the subject of two memoirs, The Speckled People and The Sailor In The Wardrobe.

Inglis’s soft questioning style did not suit the occasion and Hamilton is a much better writer than speaker.

The three day conference brought up the depth of academic analysis into aspects of social work and social policy, education, criminology and youth work. Some fine papers were delivered by Jame McGrath on Prisoners, drugs and fatherhood. Colette Colfer, who used to work for WLRfm spoke on Muslims In Ireland and Dr. Niamh Maguire, wowed an audience with a provocative Alternatives To Prison.

At most academic conferences you get the inward and precious looking work like Tom Boland’s Critical Contagion in the Media – the liminality of Ireland’s great age of critique. Or a paper on The Politics Of Irish Water or Wily E Coyote as a metaphor for the Libidinal.

High point of the conference was the work of Fergus Hogan and Jonathan Culleton on Men, masculinity, Crime And Punishment, got lots of media coverage and pointed contradiction from the floor at the event. They must be doing something right to cause such a stir.