Sorrow at death of one of Lanark’s great guys

Gerry McGarrigle
Gerry McGarrigle

Friends and business people throughout Lanark were shocked to learn of the sudden death of popular publican Gerry McGarrigle last Tuesday.

Gerry, 54, died during major heart surgery in Edinburgh Royal Hospital.

For three decades, Gerry, with sister Eileen and their mother Pat, ran the Woodpecker in Lanark, with his sister Ursula, the fourth member of the family team, regularly coming through from Glasgow to pitch in at busy times and for holiday cover.

“Gerry was the life and soul of Lanark and a great guy. He will be missed,” said one friend in a Facebook tribute.

Another said: “A Lanark legend! Rest in peace, big man.”

And a third said: “Far too early for last orders. Rest in peace, Gerry.”

Gerry’s father Joe McGarrigle was a publican at the Crown, in Hope Street, and on his death, Pat, a teacher, took over the running of the bar while raising her children.

From the age of 18, Gerry helped out behind the bar, gaining experience which would help the family business later.

When Pat bought the Woodpecker, it was a coffee shop and craft centre, but Gerry and Eileen had bigger plans for it.

“Gerry was quick to see the potential of the cellar to create a small bar, but his bar became so popular that they decided to redevelop the whole premises,” said a friend.

There were bars in Lanark catering for older men three decades ago, but the Woodpecker became a focal point for younger generations as well.

Its discos proved very popular, and as a meeting place for young people in the town, the Woodpecker was the starting point for many a romance later to blossom into marriage.

The restaurant and function side also expanded, and the Woodpecker has continued to attract customers of all ages.

Gerry proved a great organiser, laying on live music, quiz nights and pool tournaments. Whatever customers would enjoy, he and Eileen could arrange.

Away from the family business, Gerry was a member of Lanark Golf Club and, more recently, joined the town bowling club.

Keen on sport, he made regular trips to see open golf, major races and other events.

Pat, Eileen, her partner Alex, Ursula and Gerry’s partner Sharron are devastated at his sudden death.

St Mary’s Church was packed, with standing room only, for his funeral on Wednesday.