The McDevits and the Glasgow mafia

The McDevits and the Glasgow mafia

The flat in Manor House was a cornucopia of exotic characters. The most exotic of all was the McDevit family. They lived on the floor below us and expanded to take over all three bedsits.
The first to appear was Mr McDevit, a small middle-aged scruffy looking man with shaggy eyebrows and not a lot of personal hygiene. He arrived one night, moved in and established himself into a pattern that he maintained for the duration of his stay. That largely involved sitting on the bench by the park with a bottle of scotch in a brown paper bag. He always, regardless of weather, wore a long tweed overcoat. I later discovered why.
The next to arrive was Mrs McDevit. She was a larger lady with an assertive disposition. It was probably good that Mr McDevit spent most of his life outside the flat because he had been known to raise his voice and I think they might have killed each other.
Shortly after the other bedsits became vacant and various children of assorted ages, from around fourteen to late twenties, began to arrive.
They kept themselves to themselves but were friendly enough if you passed them on the stairs though utterly incomprehensible. Mr McDevit had such a strong Glaswegian accent that it would have been difficult to decipher at the best of times but when you factored in the perpetual slur from the alcohol it became merely a series of guttural sounds.
Shortly after Mr McDevit moved in all the telephone boxes in the area stopped working. This was because they had all been jimmied open. Within the recesses of the overcoat were a number of ‘tools’ one of which was a crowbar. This was deployed on phone boxes in order to replenish the stocks of alcohol. I found it interesting to imagine what the storekeepers thought when he came in to pay for a big bottle of whisky with those old many sided three penny bits.
The rumour soon went round the house that Mr McDevit was on the run. He’d had to flee Glasgow owing to a ‘dispute’ with fellow gang members. I do not know how accurate that might be but future events suggested that there might well have been some truth to it.
They were not there long.
The dry-cleaners across the road was broken into. There was no money so the burglars had stolen all the dry-cleaning.
One of the criminals had dropped an envelope with an address. The police visited the McDevits and discovered mounds of dry cleaning, along with a number of other stolen items. More worryingly they found a cache of guns under the mattresses.
No longer would I hear Mr McDevit’s greeting – ‘Arlriii thun?’ as I walked past the park bench.

9 thoughts on “The McDevits and the Glasgow mafia

  1. Mafia? With a name like that? Lol. That wasn’t any mafia you ran into there, certainly not with that name which automatically defines as an Irish Roman Catholic and if guns were involved he’d be running for the IRA. They used to rip off anything and everything for their cause, including jemmying phone boxes.
    Christ, you English are so bloody naive at times.

      1. I take that to mean that other people have also said that you’re naive. Sorry, I had no intention of rubbing salt into a wound but just thought it needed saying as it was so obviously the case. Maybe it’s a lot easier for me to realise being Irish myself, as if my name in itself wasn’t a give-away anyway.

      2. Sorry? As it stands I’ve to the best of my recollection only posted once before on an entirely different type of subject.
        I can’t speak for any “same shit as before”, but everything I’ve said here so far would be the truth. The man’s name is quintessentially Irish, and his robbing behaviour is part and parcel of the IRA’s lower level operatives survival tactics. They tended to be unemployed persons but avoided the signing on at the brew office business to keep themselves under the radar.
        I can’t quite see what part of any of that you find cause to form an objection to.

      3. Obviously I have altered the name when I was writing the anecdote. It was a factual account of what occurred. It was also a family I incorporated into my book Danny’s Story from which I believe you made exactly the same comments.

  2. Why would it be obvious? It would not be obvious to anyone. The only thing that is obvious is the origins of that name McDevit. Or were you unaware of that? Do you know anything about the origins of names? Most people don’t and would also not have any inkling towards the origins of any names beginning with Mc also.
    No sorry, I have no knowledge of any book of that name.
    No, I have never made any comments before about this book.
    I have now and only now. You either take them for what they are or you don’t. I don’t care either way, but I do know what you were living beside even if you didn’t then and still don’t now.
    Didn’t all these guns ring any alarm bells for you?
    Well at least I was dead right about you being naive.

    1. Dear dear – do you think we knew anything about the guns until they were bust and gone?
      The term Mafia was a literary flavour. They were likely small time crooks from Glasgow. The story was that they had upset some of the real heavies and had to flee. From the guns and knives I would suggest they were probably quite involved in the Glasgow underworld.
      All I know is that they lived downstairs, were very colourful, I was on good terms with them and received no hassle and they provided a good story to write about.
      That house was full of colourful characters and I was under no illusions as to who I was sharing the place with. I was not some dozy kid.
      Certainly no need for the naïve jibes thank you.
      As for the name – I modified that to protect the guilty. How you can possibly manufacture a history out of a manufactured name is beyond me.

      1. I would suggest that because of the presence of several guns then he would not be a small time crook. Had he one small arms pistol then maybe, but the cache of guns as described certainly suggests otherwise.
        Because of the presence of a wife and several children, this also suggests that he wasn’t a member of the “Glasgow Mafia” of whom I’m about 100% certain one would have to be an Italian in order to be affiliated. Mafia types don’t take the wife and kids on business trips.
        What I don’t understand is why use anything of “literary flavour”. The story either stands up on its own or it doesn’t. To embellish with falsities does no credit to the story as people can read between the lines. Especially people who know a bit about like and didn’t live a closeted existence.
        Why would anybody involved in the Glasgow underworld – whatever that is – be shacked up in a small flat in a really crumby district of London with a load of student types? That really does not cut the mustard.

        The previous poster, Michael Harrison, made the observation that McDevit was far more likely to be a gun-runner for the IRA. His robbing activities all add up to that as was rightly concluded, these types didn’t claim unemployment for very good reason.
        Obviously the writer wasn’t in the least bit aware of this type of person, but from where I came from we knew quite a number of similar types. Everything about his activities adds up to being a junior member of the IRA.
        Whether the writer had changed his name or not, they would not have any firm idea as it’s correct spelling.
        As also pointed out, there does exist distinction between Mc and Mac, and naturally 99% of English people would be automatically alienated from that detail.
        But for many of us this tells us almost everything we need to know about a person at face value level. We would be automatically several notches up in terms of basic information than another who is unknowing of such matters.

        What does add to the confusion is if the writer does change a name and in doing so has no knowledge of what he has changed it from and to what he changed it to. There was good reason to make comment about that although it seems the writer claims to have changed the name, but the reason for doing so remains uncertain. I would assume it is safe to assume that the other party would be deceased by now so why go to the trouble of identity concealment?
        An IRA operative would very much more than likely – as most indeed did have – have an Irish origin name, if not a Christian name and Surname and frequently both.
        As Michael Harrison rightly pointed out himself, many Irishmen do carry the name Michael and Harrison is a well known Irish family name. The very same also applies to my name for both Christian and Surname.

        Back onto topic – that cache of guns does suggest affiliation to the IRA.

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