JOHN McGarrigle, who is understood to be among the eight killed in Friday night’s Clutha bar helicopter crash, was a beloved Glasgow poet whose words defined the city he lived his life in.
The 59-year-old’s son, also named John, was told by an eyewitness who had been inside the bar at the time of the crash that his father was sitting “right in the spot” where the helicopter came down.
McGarrigle, who was a regular at the Clutha, wrote a number of volumes of poetry and contributed to poetic compilations about the city and its working classes.
In one poetry compilation, Workers City, “The Real Glasgow Stands Up”, he wrote about finding beauty in the desolation of the city’s poorer areas. “There’s something, that defies this desecration/a sunset unsurpassed.” he wrote.
McGarrigle, believed to be from Castlemilk, a working class area in the south of the city, was often described by his fans as a “slam poet” who loved the city he was born in, performed his poems live and even penned a volume of poetry entitled Glasgow’s McGarrigle: Poems.
Elaine Morgan, a Glaswegian living in Canada who was a fan of McGarrigle’s poetry and read many of them as a child, said: “I can’t believe it. I grew up with his poems. I remember the stuff he used to write.
“These days I think he’d be lauded as a slam poet. He put into words what a lot of people felt but couldn’t say. I knew him as a really earthy, working class,
tell-it-like-it-is Glasgow poet. A great loss.”
McGarrigle’s son spent all of Friday night and Saturday keeping a vigil next to the Clutha bar, searching for his father, who had gone to the bar on the edge of Glasgow’s Merchant city – known as a popular open mic spot – for a Friday night drink.
He said he feared the worst when he did not hear from the father after the crash.
He said yesterday: “The realisation, and just a deep instinct… kicked in right away as soon as I heard there was an accident at Clutha. I just knew something bad had happened to him.
“When I came round and seen where the position of the helicopter [was] that was when I knew, because he sat in that spot all the time, where the copter hit. I am still shaking.”