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Mick McLaughlan By Michael Keenan

You just have to mention this man’s name and before you know it a smile comes across the faces of those who knew him and then they begin to tell you stories about his exploits, some of them true, but others you take with a pinch of salt. I never met the man personally and the only thing we have in common is his love for Garngad and its people. He was also recognised as a Garngad poet; several of his poems have been lost but quite a few remain, and they were about the district known as the Garngad. One of his last ones was named “Farewell to Garngad”, but there are others which I hope to get later.

But first to his exploits; he always had collaborators with him to set up most of his pranks. He even had great relations with the local policemen. One of the stories is of him betting money with strangers that he could lift a telegraph pole out of the ground. The pole in question was at the bottom of Garnock Street near the swings. The place was just below the wash-house with a police-box next to it. Everything was organised. The hour for the performance was at 12 midnight. A large crowd had gathered and out of the crowd stepped Mick at the stroke of midnight. He clasped the base of the pole and began clinging on it when out of the police-box strode big John Henderson, the local policeman. He roared “McLaughlan! Leave that bloody pole alone. You have shifted it three times this week. Do it again and you’ll be arrested – so beat it!” They tell me the look of astonishment on the stranger’s face had to be seen to be believed. They paid the debt to Mick and walked shaking his head in disbelief.

The other story is quite horrendous. Apparently Mick was at a wake and Mick had removed the corpse from the coffin, put on a nightgown and put flowers on to his face and got into the coffin and as the mourners filed into the room, sat upright and frightened the life out of the crowd. I am told this story is true and it took a long time before the family forgave him for it.

Another story is about the time he had to convince three men that he was a hypnotist. He managed to patter up one of the local ‘toughs’ to take part, telling him that he was on a couple of pints if he did what he told him. Bets were laid and Mick sat the man in the chair which was then surrounded by the people in the pub. Mick proceeded with the ‘mumbo-jumbo’ – your eyes are heavy, you are going to sleep, you won’t feel a thing. The man shut his eyes pretending to be asleep. Then Mick began sticking a darning needle in the man’s legs and posterior, who because Mick had told him to keep up his ‘tough-man’ status before-hand didn’t move a muscle, and then he was brought round again. He immediately was questioned by those who had placed the bets if he had felt anything happening to him. He replied (on instruction from Mick of course), “How would I know, I have just sat down”. The hard, simple-minded man got his two pints and a sore bum! Mick and his cronies sat all night drinking on the proceeds. They tell me Mick is gone but not in the minds of those who knew him.

Another character gone. He remains a legend on the Garngad.

Here is his farewell poem…

“Farewell to Garngad” by Mick McLaughlan

Oh father dear and did you hear
new houses they have built
and some of them in Easterhouse
and some in Castlemilk,
Balornock and Barmulloch too
they’re building them like mad,
and now they’re taking our friends away
from the dear old Garngad.

Oh Garngad! Oh Garngad!
upon you some folk frown,
I never thought I would live to see
your buildings crumbling down,
they may send me up to Drumchapel
or the Milton scheme my lad,
But they’ll never take away my heart
from the dear old Garngad.

Remember Paddy’s Castle
and the bowling alley too
remember yon blind window where,
we used to bill and coo,
McGregor’s land and Syme’s land
oh don’t it make you sad
to think today they’ve passed away
from the dear old Garngad

They’re building houses everywhere
they’re building them with skill,
They’re building them in Carntyne
and even in Priesthill,
they may send me away to Siberia
or even old Baghdad,
but they’ll never take my heart away
from the dear old Garngad.

On Villers Street and Cobden Street
And the good old Rosemount Pawn,
They’re all knocked down
But on that ground skyscrapers now adorn,
Yet still there’s one thing that keeps bothering me
Oh how I get so mad,
For they’ve changed the name to Royston now
Instead of Garngad.


Read about Provanmill and Blackhill
Read about Germiston
Read about Garngad and Royston
Read about politics in the area
Read about entertainment in the area
Read about sports in the area
Read about schools in the area
Read about churches and religion in the area
Read the 'Farewell to Garngad'
Read about a poet from 'Little Ireland'
Read the conclusion by writer James Friel


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