Sean McGarry was part of the small dedicated group of Irish Nationalists who came together in 1909 to form the Irish National Boy Scouts, also known as Na Fianna Eireann. McGarry was a prominent member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and along with Countess Markievicz, Bulmer Hobson, Helena Moloney and Dr. Pat McCartan formed the first ‘unofficial’ Fianna Committee.
It was McGarry who accompanied Markievicz to see Mr. O’Neill, the headmaster of St. Andrews School in Great Brunswick Street to discuss sending the first batch of boys to form the new organization. Among the first group of boys sent by O’Neill were Eamon Martin, Paddy Ward, and the Fitzgerald Brothers.
It was claimed that McGarry was the one responsible for shooting Tom Clarke in the elbow accidentally in January 1916. McGarry, who was evidently close to Clarke, later fought in the GPO during the Easter Rising as his Aide de Camp.
He was imprisoned in Frongoch camp following the Rising and afterwards became President of the Supreme Council of the IRB and General Secretary of the Irish Volunteers in 1917.
McGarry was one of those ‘well-known’ Republicans who were rounded up and imprisoned in the ‘German Plot’ of 1918. He later escaped from Lincoln Jail in February 1919 with Eamon de Valera. He fought in the War of Independence and became a Sinn Fein TD in 1921.
He supported the Treaty and became one of those targeted by the anti-Treaty side during the Irish Civil war of 1922/23. In December 1922 his house was set on fire, allegedly by anti-Treaty men. His son Emmett sadly lost his life in the blaze.
Following the Civil War he briefly remained in politics, first with Cumann na nGaedheal, then with the National Party. He was one of the main instigators of the 1916-21 Club which was set up in the 1940’s to heal the divisions brought about by the terrible Civil War. He served two terms as President of the ‘Club’ before his death in 1960.