Seán McGarry: Revolutionary, Confidant, Victim

Éireann_Ascendant

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Two articles on the life and times of Seán McGarry (1886-1958) who was intimately involved in the Howth Gunrunning and the Easter Rising, not to mention the War of Independence, the Dáil debates over the Treaty and, tragically, the Civil War.

A Prominent Republican Leader: The Trials and Tribulations of Seán McGarry, 1913-1919 (Part I)

He was an aide and companion to Tom Clarke and later Michael Collins, who described McGarry as “the one man who was closer in the confidence of the leaders of the rising than any other man today."



[Seán McGarry (right) and Michael Collins (centre)]

His close relationship with Clarke, and also with Seán MacDermott, defined his early career as a revolutionary, acting as a right-hand man and a go-between for both IRB leaders. This was despite an unfortunate incident in January 1916 when he accidently shot Clarke with a pistol that he thought was unloaded.

Safety first, kids!

McGarry spent most of the Rising, which he had helped to organise, in the GPO alongside Clarke. Before they evacuated the building at the end of the week, McGarry jokingly asked if he was going to hell for eating some pork chops on Easter Friday.


Twenty Years a Republican: The Trials and Tribulations of Seán McGarry, 1919-1922 (Part II)

Upon release from prison in December 1916, McGarry worked extensively with Michael Collins to reorganise the IRB and the revolutionary movement in general. One person who he failed to get along with, however, was Éamon de Valera, even after the two of them were imprisoned together in Lincoln Jail in May 1918.

The pair of them escaped in February 1919 with the help of Collins. Coded postcards had been sent out of Lincoln beforehand, showing a cartoon figure of McGarry (below) with cryptic messages beneath. The cipher was so obscure that not even his wife knew what to make of the cards at first



Tomasina McGarry was another notable figure during the War of Independence, and worked as a courier for Collins (working for the Big Fella apparently being something of a family business) for police moles, as well as hiding weapons (once in a teapot) or finding accommodation for those on the run.

McGarry took the side of the Treaty, and argued for its acceptance in the Dail debates. He verbally fenced with de Valera and Mary MacSwiney, and compared the opposition to Samson pulling down the temple on the country.

He was commissioned as a captain in the Free State army, and narrowly avoided death in the course of the Civil War, being targeted for assassination and, at one point, pinned down in Amiens Street Railway Station by enemy snipers.

His good luck could not last forever, however, and his long record of service to the national cause did nothing to prevent the tragedy on the 10th December 1922, when the family home in Dublin was targeted for burning.



[Seán McGarry, mugshot]
 


Windowshopper

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Two articles on the life and times of Seán McGarry (1886-1958) who was intimately involved in the Howth Gunrunning and the Easter Rising, not to mention the War of Independence, the Dáil debates over the Treaty and, tragically, the Civil War.

A Prominent Republican Leader: The Trials and Tribulations of Seán McGarry, 1913-1919 (Part I)

He was an aide and companion to Tom Clarke and later Michael Collins, who described McGarry as “the one man who was closer in the confidence of the leaders of the rising than any other man today."



[Seán McGarry (right) and Michael Collins (centre)]

His close relationship with Clarke, and also with Seán MacDermott, defined his early career as a revolutionary, acting as a right-hand man and a go-between for both IRB leaders. This was despite an unfortunate incident in January 1916 when he accidently shot Clarke with a pistol that he thought was unloaded.

Safety first, kids!

McGarry spent most of the Rising, which he had helped to organise, in the GPO alongside Clarke. Before they evacuated the building at the end of the week, McGarry jokingly asked if he was going to hell for eating some pork chops on Easter Friday.


Twenty Years a Republican: The Trials and Tribulations of Seán McGarry, 1919-1922 (Part II)

Upon release from prison in December 1916, McGarry worked extensively with Michael Collins to reorganise the IRB and the revolutionary movement in general. One person who he failed to get along with, however, was Éamon de Valera, even after the two of them were imprisoned together in Lincoln Jail in May 1918.

The pair of them escaped in February 1919 with the help of Collins. Coded postcards had been sent out of Lincoln beforehand, showing a cartoon figure of McGarry (below) with cryptic messages beneath. The cipher was so obscure that not even his wife knew what to make of the cards at first



Tomasina McGarry was another notable figure during the War of Independence, and worked as a courier for Collins (working for the Big Fella apparently being something of a family business) for police moles, as well as hiding weapons (once in a teapot) or finding accommodation for those on the run.

McGarry took the side of the Treaty, and argued for its acceptance in the Dail debates. He verbally fenced with de Valera and Mary MacSwiney, and compared the opposition to Samson pulling down the temple on the country.

He was commissioned as a captain in the Free State army, and narrowly avoided death in the course of the Civil War, being targeted for assassination and, at one point, pinned down in Amiens Street Railway Station by enemy snipers.

His good luck could not last forever, however, and his long record of service to the national cause did nothing to prevent the tragedy on the 10th December 1922, when the family home in Dublin was targeted for burning.



[Seán McGarry, mugshot]
What became of him after the Civil War?
 

Éireann_Ascendant

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What became of him after the Civil War?
According to his page on the Dictionary of Irish Biography:

Elected Cumann na nGaedheal TD for Dublin North (1923–4) on the strength of the massive first-count surplus of constituency colleague Richard Mulcahy (qv), McGarry served on a special dáil committee on wireless broadcasting, which rejected proposals for a privately owned Irish service in favour of a service run wholly or dominantly by the state; McGarry declined to sign an interim committee report (January 1924) owing to his business connections with the electrical trade. He was among the nine ‘national group’ TDs who seceded from the pro-treaty parliamentary party in the wake of the 1924 army mutiny, ultimately resigning their dáil seats in protest at the government's handling of the affair (30 October 1924).

Retiring from public life, in later years McGarry was employed by Irish Hospitals Trust, wrote articles for newspapers and journals, and engaged in broadcasting. After residing from the mid 1920s at several addresses in Dún Laoghaire, from 1938 he lived at 25 Booterstown Avenue, Blackrock. With his wife Tomasina (d. 1957) he had two sons and one daughter. He died suddenly 9 December 1958 of a heart attack in his son's home at 44 Richmond Avenue, Monkstown, Co. Dublin.
So, not very much, it seems.
 

Windowshopper

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According to his page on the Dictionary of Irish Biography:


So, not very much, it seems.
Irish Hospital Trust is interesting it. Joe McGrath who likewise resigned from CnaG in the wake of the Army Mutiny was instrumental in that enterprise (and it was an enterprise). It shows the pattern of personal, political and business relationships which sprung up after the foundation of this state (and every other state for that matter because,you know, humans).
 

Éireann_Ascendant

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Irish Hospital Trust is interesting it. Joe McGrath who likewise resigned from CnaG in the wake of the Army Mutiny was instrumental in that enterprise (and it was an enterprise). It shows the pattern of personal, political and business relationships which sprung up after the foundation of this state (and every other state for that matter because,you know, humans).
Indeed - as a matter of fact, the third man in the top photo of the OP, next to Collins and McGarry, is Joe McGrath.

Contacts, it's all about the contacts...
 

Levellers

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Wasn't Sean McGarry the only survivor of the final meeting which moved the Rising from Sunday to Monday after Eoin MacNeill’s countermand order?
 

Éireann_Ascendant

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Wasn't Sean McGarry the only survivor of the final meeting which moved the Rising from Sunday to Monday after Eoin MacNeill’s countermand order?
No idea, to be honest - McGarry, in keeping with his reluctance to say too much even years later, didn't describe any such meeting in his BMH Statement, and if he was indeed the only survivor, well, there'd be no one else to ask.
 

McTell

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No
Indeed - as a matter of fact, the third man in the top photo of the OP, next to Collins and McGarry, is Joe McGrath.

Contacts, it's all about the contacts...

All about the money, contacts are the stepping stones. A lot of rebels just didn't get it.

Joe had been a bank robber in the Tan war and his gang got a small percentage of each take. He would then usually win the other members' shares in poker games and ended the war a rich man. Ministerial salaries were low in the 1920s, and well you can guess the rest. One of my political heroes.
 


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