Joyce Milne D'Auria
The Scottish Writer

Billy Boy: Caught Between the Orange and the Green

Billy Boy by Joyce Milne D'Auria“My father, he was Orange and me mother, she was Green. Oh, it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.” So goes the old song, The Orange and the Green.

Billy Boy lives this dilemma, caught between the Orange and the Green in “The most Catholic town in Scotland” where fights break out between the sects, especially when the men have been paid at the pit or the foundry. BILLY BOY is set in Whifflet, an industrial village in the Scottish Lowlands, near Glasgow.

In 1865, a young Irish Catholic woman gives birth to Billy in the Old Monkland Poorhouse. Before she dies, she tells the priest that her son’s father is the late William Maclure, a prominent Orangeman. Billy’s Aunt Maggie saves him from the orphanage, raises him with kindness and teaches him tolerance, but he is pressured by the larger alienated society to make a choice between his two heritages. A hard life in the coal mine looms unless Billy follows his aunt’s advice and goes to University, but Billy follows his heart, which leads him on the adventures of a lifetime.

A Note from the Author

Having been raised even a century later in Coatbridge, where the suburb of Whifflet exists today, I can confirm that the dynamics still were intact while I was growing up there.

To write a coming of age story set there in my grandfather’s era, certain factors could not be ignored.

I hesitated to jump in at the deep end since these issues still pervade the consciousness of the region but I think the intellectually curious reader will be better able to see and understand the roots of the sectarian conflict and put it in perspective OR just enjoy the story of a boy, born without much of a hope, who, with a little help, becomes what he was meant to be- a simple but compelling scenario so many of us face.

Book Quotes and Excerpts

Billy asked Jock and Donald if they were Orangemen or Catholics. Donald just smiled in his quiet way but Jock explained to Billy that some places that didn’t bother people.

“What about Canada? Do Protestants and Catholics live on the same street?” Billy wanted to know.
“Och, I never really gave it much thought. Lizzie’s brother Charlie is my business partner over there. His wife is French. She’s probably Catholic.”

“But don’t they fight about it?” Billy’s amazement amused Jock.

“Och, Lad, you’re too young to worry about such nonsense. When you’re grown, maybe you’ll think about going to see your Uncle Charlie in Ottawa. Maybe I’ll have persuaded my Lizzie to go there by then.” He winked. It appealed to Billy to think of himself as part of this family of far-flung of adventurers.

A conversation between Jock and Billy. (Billy Boy: Caught Between the Orange and the Green)

“It was a knife he had used for cleaning the horses’ hooves that nicked Wullie. If it had been a clean knife it wouldn’t have killed him. That Ferrier’s knife, that dirty instrument, that’s what done it. I swear. I’ve seen lockjaw and it takes a few weeks for the worst of it to set in. It’s a terrible thing to see, a man dying with the lock jaw.”

Billy Boy: Caught Between the Orange and the Green

“Sorry I got a bit dirty, Auntie. I fell on my face too. Got a wee cut, but it isn’t too bad. I’ll be fine after sup…”
Uncle Aleck made his usual dramatic entrance. “Hallo there. Ye survived the runaway horse on Whifflet Street, Billy boy. Heard ye got knock down. Good Davy was there tae help ye.” Uncle Aleck arrived just in the nick of time. Billy’s own story had something to do with tripping over Sash into a puddle with a rock in it.
Grandfather grunted and spat into the fireplace; the sizzling sound signalling his disbelief.
Aunt Maggie wrinkled her forehead in Aleck’s direction and said. “Yer tea’s ready, Aleck. Maybe you can regale us with some more stories while we’re eating.”
“Aye, great, Maggie. Me and Billy are both famished.” he winked at Billy.
Billy decided then and there that Uncle Aleck could not be trusted to spin a yarn. He was just too straight-forward and honest, but as long as they stuck together in their story there wasn’t much grandpa could do.

Billy Boy: Caught Between the Orange and the Green

Reader Comments

There is not a dull page in the book. I will be reading this again and again. The story is fantastic and loaded with history. Great book!

Molly L. Bailey

Magically transports you back to Scotland in the mid-19th century… get both the intricate story about the characters, as well as develop a keen understanding of what life was like in those times. I doubt this could have been written with so much fascinating detail unless the author actually grew up in Scotland — which she did!

Dave, Florida

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