Clancy, George (Seoirse) (1881–1921), nationalist and politician, was born 18 March 1881 in Grange, Co. Limerick, one of the large family of John Clancy (d. 1935), carpenter, originally of Doneraile, Co. Cork, and Bridget Clancy (née Farrell). He was a brother of the republican Patrick Clancy (qv) and the family was of known Fenian tendencies, his father being a supporter and his uncle having reputedly taken part in the rising of 1867. George was educated at Grange national school and St Patrick's seminary in Bruff before attending UCD (1899–1904). On coming to Dublin he immediately involved himself in many Gaelic-revival activities, joining the Celtic Literary Society organised by Arthur Griffith (qv) and William Rooney (qv) and the Gaelic League, where he was taught by Patrick Pearse (qv). In UCD he contributed to the New Ireland Review, founded a social and literary club, the Confederates; a hurling club, the Geraldines; and, most importantly, the college branch of the Gaelic League. He convinced many of his contemporaries and friends to join the league, including Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (qv), Tom Kettle (qv), Thomas MacCurtain (qv), Terence MacSwiney (qv), and James Joyce (qv). He and John Francis Byrne (qv) were Joyce's closest friends in university and he became the basis for the characters Madden in Stephen hero and Davin in A portrait of the artist as a young man.
The warmth of feeling between Davin and Stephen Daedalus reflects that between Clancy and Joyce. Only Davin addresses Daedalus as ‘Stevie’ and alone among his contemporaries Clancy greeted Joyce by his first name, despite the fact that they had little in common. Joyce was so irritated by what he considered Pearse's anglophobia that he quickly stopped attending Gaelic League meetings. He reacted similarly to Michael Cusack (qv) on being introduced to him by Clancy, and they again differed when Clancy was among those who objected to the performance of ‘The Countess Cathleen’ by W. B. Yeats (qv). Despite this, their friendship continued to prosper. Both were inveterate pranksters, their favourite joke being to convince a gullible and horrified French lecturer that they were intent on fighting a duel in the Phoenix Park. Joyce describes Davin as ‘the peasant student’ who ‘worshipped the sorrowful legend of Ireland’, and uses him as a foil to allow Daedalus to express his views on the stifling of cultural and personal expression in Ireland. Clancy's devout catholicism is also evident in the portrayal of Davin, especially when the character relates how he refused the solicitations of a lonely young wife late one night when walking home from a hurling match. This, according to Byrne, was based on an actual incident.
Upon leaving university he taught Irish at Clongowes Wood College till 1906, when he returned to Grange due to poor health. His less than robust constitution never inhibited his political activities, and in 1906 he led the agitation to have a local estate divided up. In 1908 he moved to Limerick city to teach Irish and became a leading figure in nationalist circles there, joining Fianna Éireann and (1913) the Irish Volunteers, in which he was soon one of the local driving forces. He was arrested after the 1916 rising but released within days; soon afterwards he was jailed in Cork, but released after a brief hunger strike. He was an influential member of the committee to elect de Valera (qv) in Clare (1917), a leader of the anti-conscription campaign (1918), and a collector of the Dáil Éireann loan. His health further weakened by a bad bout of influenza during the epidemic of 1918, he again retired from teaching, and became a superintendent of the Irish National Assurance Company.
In 1920 he contested the local elections in Limerick, becoming an alderman of the city, and in January 1921 attained the office of mayor. His home at Don Guir, Castle View Gardens, Thomondgate, became the target of frequent raids, one of which proved fatal when he was shot three times in the abdomen by a group of masked men, almost certainly Black and Tans, on 7 March 1921. Two other known nationalists, Joseph O'Donoghue and Michael O'Callaghan (qv), his predecessor as mayor, were killed on the same night. During the raid his wife Máire (Moll) Clancy (née Killeen) was shot in the forearm, although some nationalist sources prefer to describe the wound as being in the hand, presumably due to the resonances with crucifixion. They had met through the Gaelic League and were married in 1915, but had no children. The assassinations outraged even moderate nationalists and precipitated the purchase of the republican plot at Mount St Lawrence cemetery in Limerick; they were the first to be interred there.