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Joseph McGarrity: Man of Action, Man of Letters

Curator’s Welcome


The nation soul of Erin


Nigh dead from rack and wrong,


Has been revived an hundred times


By just a little song!


Joseph McGarrity, “To Eleanor Rogers Cox,” Celtic Moods and Memories.


Those interested in the history of modern Ireland will know Joseph McGarrity (1874-1940) as the Ulster-born American immigrant who carried with him from his homeland a passionate and uncompromising commitment to Irish independence, who from his adopted home of Philadelphia rose to lead the Clan-na-Gael (the leading Irish republican organization in the United States), and who emerged as a prominent and influential figure in Irish revolutionary circles during the first half of the twentieth century.

Joseph McGarrity the committed revolutionary, romantic Irish nationalist and steadfast physical-force republican is undoubtedly an influential, fascinating and controversial historical figure; he was, however, also a published poet, an avid collector of books, a newspaper publisher, and he even dabbled in sketching. Among his personal papers held by Villanova University can be found his unfinished memoirs, an unpublished travel narrative, and a self-published musical score for a song set to one of his poems.

Though at best a minor poet, McGarrity worked diligently and seriously at his verse. Taken in context, his literary efforts offer a valuable supplement to the biographical and historical record surrounding him.  This exhibition aims to explore this lesser known but quite telling side of Joseph McGarrity as a man of letters.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at Villanova library for their many considerations and kindnesses. I would particularly like to thank Michael Foight for his generosity with his valuable time and professional knowledge; Laura Bang for her seemingly inexhaustible patience and good humor; and Joanne Quinn for her enthusiasm and creativity.


Curated by Brian J. McDonald, PhD (2012 Digital Library Intern), with graphics by Joanne Quinn.




Posted by Sharon Taylor on
Wonderful job! Both texts and images work very well together to tell the story.
Can you tell me what platform/softwares you used to make this digital archive?
Posted by Allan McGarrity on
Hello, I am interested in finding out more about Joseph McGarrity as i believe he may be my great uncle, my great grandfather Bernard McGarrity was born in Pomeroy near Carrickmore Tyrone in 1842 and I think was Josephs uncle, Joseph was my grandfather 'Michael McGarrity's' cousin.
My Grandfather was born in 1892 and was a late baby as his dad was 50 at the time and looking at the photo of Joseph he bears a striking resemblance to my grandfather.
I would like to find out if my great grandfather Bernard was indeed Josephs McGarrity's uncle, any help would be great.
Posted by James Francis Ryan on

I am searching for information on Joseph McGarrity connection to Saint Gregory's Church 52nd Warren St. Philadelphia. Was there a building named for McGarrity on Lancaster Ave near 52nd street? Also if available a list of Clan Na Gaul Members 1901.
Thank You for your time