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The Arts Council Playography Na Gaeilge


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Hiring Days


  • Playwright

    Marie Jones (1) 

  • Notes

    A play for 8-11 year olds. The original production used masks and music.

  • Synopsis

    This play is based on the custom of the Hiring Fair where for at least 100 years men, women and children sold their labour as seasonal workers on Ulster farms. Hughie McKinley is eleven. He comes from a poor Donegal family who can no longer afford to keep him. Setting off for the hiring fair, he is taken on by the Masterson family together with Arabella, a talking pig he has befriended. On arrival, Arabella lives in fear of being eaten while Hughie's life of terrible hardship is matched by that of everyone else, animal or human. In despair, Hughie finally comes up with a plan to save the animals from death, the Mastersons from disaster, and his own family from eviction. By the time he leaves for home, everyone is happy, including Hughie.

  • Play Type

    Theatre for Young Audiences

    Number Of Acts


  • Cast Size Male


  • Cast Size Female


  • Cast Notes

    Cast members also play a range of other characters.

Original Production

  • Date of First Production

    20 January 1992

  • Producer

    Produced by Replay Theatre Company

  • Original Venue

  • Venue Notes

    This play was first performed at Holy Family Girls Primary School, Belfast, as part of a tour to schools and venues.

Original Cast  
Hughie McKinley Peter Richey
Arabella Scratchins Sheelagh O'Kane
Dan Joe Masterson Patrick Fitzsimons
Matilda Masterson Olivia Nash
Production Team  
Director Brenda Winter
Designer Frank Quinn
Costumes Imperial Design
Assistant Director Joe Devlin
Puppet Design and Construction Frank Quinn
Mask Design Frank Quinn
Stage Manager Frank Quinn
Stage Manager Thomas Marshall
Scenic Artist Trish McCartney
Cover Illustration Ralph Dobson
Secretary Irene Swift

Rights Information

Source Of Information

The information for this entry was taken from the original production programme. Additional information was supplied by Replay Productions from information contained in the company files.