Seán Harrington

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Seán Harrington (1900 – 1976) was an Irish republican paramilitary who later became a prominent member of the Society of Friends.


Born in Dublin,[1] Harrington joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA),[2] and fought in the Irish War of Independence. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and remained with the IRA through the Irish Civil War.[3]

By 1941, Harrington was a member of the IRA's Army Council which organised a court-marshal of former Chief of Staff Stephen Hayes, although he did not personally take part in the trial.[4] He became Chief of Staff of the IRA in November 1941 when Pearse Kelly was arrested, but he himself was arrested the following month.[5] He was charged with failing to explain his possession of £50 and refusing to give his details to police, and was interned for two years.[6] Despite this, he appears to have remained Chief of Staff until February 1942, when Seán McCool was selected as his replacement.[7]

On release, Harrington relocated to Dublin, where he found work as the caretaker at the Court Laundry. This was a difficult role, as local levels of crime were high. In December, he was tied to his bed and beaten, taking three months to recover; he apprehended an armed robber in April 1946.[8] He broke his links with the paramilitary movement and also left the Catholic church, joining a group of Quakers; this group attracted some opposition, and Harrington lost the hearing in one ear after being attacked by a group of young Catholic extremists.[3]

By the late 1960s, Harrington had left Ireland and moved to Tring in Hertfordshire.[3]


  1. ^ Muriel Seltman, What's Left? What's Right?, p.17
  2. ^ T. J. Barrington, Discovering Kerry: Its History, Heritage & Topography, p.128
  3. ^ a b c Muriel Seltman, What's Left? What's Right?, p.24-25
  4. ^ Richard English, Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA, p.56
  5. ^ Edgar O'Ballance, Terror in Ireland: The Heritage of Hate, p.67
  6. ^ "Irish news reel: Munster", Irish News, 14 March 1942
  7. ^ Uinseann MacEoin, The IRA in the twilight years: 1923-1948, p.857
  8. ^ "House-breaking in Dublin", Irish News, 1 April 1946