Real Lives: Capital farewell to a great friend, Pat

Pat O'Flaherty was born in a working class area of Leith. Brought up by his grandparents, he left school and his home when he was 15.

Friday, 18th May 2018, 7:50 am
Pat O'Flaherty (Picture: PAUL PARKE)
Pat O'Flaherty (Picture: PAUL PARKE)

After working at several manual jobs, he emigrated to Australia at 18 with the intention of making enough money to return and buy a house and a taxi.

There he secured a job as a miner - hard, exhausting work in a hot, challenging and sometimes unsafe environment, thousands of miles from civilisation.

Living and working in camps of tough, hard men, Pat quickly learned he needed to be strong both mentally and physically. His proudest moment was scoring the winning goal for the camp’s Scottish football team against the English.

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Pat returned to Edinburgh and noticing the emerging denim and fashion business, he decided to spend his savings on opening a retail boutique, Rags, in St Stephen Street, Stockbridge.

He worked tirelessly and in the mid-Eighties opened the first Xile on South Bridge. Further branches were opened in the Capital, as well as Glasgow, Livingston and Aberdeen. In 1999 he won the prestigious award as Small British Fashion Retailer of the year, and was voted one of Edinburgh’s most influential men.

Pat’s wife Mandy, son Joe and daughters Erin and Cassie were very important to Pat. The early death of Mandy shook him to the core. Sadly, not long after Mandy’s death he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

His determination not to give in gracefully was an inspiration to his friends, colleagues and family. Confounding the doctors’ expectations, Pat fought pain and discomfort, never allowing them to get the better of him, but he lost his fight last week.

Every Friday for the last 30 years Pat held court in a French restaurant in the Grassmarket. Friends, colleagues and competitors were welcome to come and talk politics, fashion, music and football – but mostly football.

Good friend Tony Martin said: “Pat had the unusual ability to be liked and admired. He had a reputation for being tough, but straight. A fanatical supporter of Scotland, Hibs and Edinburgh, he will be missed by everyone who was lucky enough to meet him.”

The funeral is today at Mortonhall Crematorium at noon, all welcome.