Belfast to Baillieston is a family and industrial narrative that takes as its core the life of Jimmy Gracie, the grandfather of Charlie Gracie. This series of poems and short stories illuminates the harshness and the joys in the lives of this working-class family in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries on both sides of the North Channel.
The lives in this book are unique in that they are Gracie lives, but they are the lives of almost all the people involved in the production of linen and coal and therefore of the vast wealth of their employers. In this honest reflection, Charlie Gracie draws on his own and family members’ memories, detailed research and creative imagination to lay a path from the mid nineteenth century to today. Jimmy Gracie, like many others, felt the weight of international capitalism, sectarian violence and political oppression yet managed to build a platform, with his wife Mary, on which future generations have built their and their children’s lives. Belfast to Baillieston explores how poverty, migration, fortitude and love all mingle to form the wholesome, honourable lives that families like Jimmy Gracie’s create from hardship.
You can hear Charlie Gracie reading from Belfast to Baillieston at several places in Scotland and Ireland – see more here.