Geary (Garry), Thomas Augustine (Timothy) (1775–1801), composer, was born in Dublin in 1775 (his date of birth is sometimes given as 1772), the son of Timothy Garry (senior). Geary (who signed himself ‘Timothy Garry’ at the age of fifteen) later adopted the first names Thomas Augustine, presumably after the prominent English composer T. A. Arne (who had spent some years in Dublin during the 1740s and 1750s). In or before January 1782 he became a choirboy at St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin, where he would have received his musical education from the master of the choirboys, Langrishe Doyle, and from Philip Cogan (qv), who, as well as being cathedral organist, was one of the leading Irish composers and pianists of the day. Geary showed early talent as a composer, winning the Amateur Society's gold medal for the best glee in 1789 when he was aged fourteen. He remained at St Patrick's until about January 1790 (when his name still appears, but crossed out, in the annual list of choirboys). The following May he received the £5 gratuity given to choirboys following completion of their service. In 1791, at the age of sixteen, he unsuccessfully applied for the vacant position of organist at St Peter's church in Dublin, mentioning that he had been ‘educated under the best musical masters and accustomed to execute every part of the duty of the organist of St Patrick's cathedral’, suggesting that while a choirboy he had assisted Cogan as cathedral organist. In 1792 he performed a piano concerto by Dussek at the Rotunda, on which occasion one of his canzonets, ‘Soft is the zephyr's breezy wing’, was also performed. His Ten canzonets for one and two voices, with an accompaniment for the piano-forte or harpsichord etc., published c. 1795, was dedicated to the wife of Dean William Cradock (d. 1793) of St Patrick's, who was largely responsible for organising charitable musical events at the Rotunda.
Geary died tragically in November 1801 at the age of twenty-six when, according to Warburton, Whitelaw, and Walsh (1818), ‘labouring under some depressions of mind he rushed out of the house, and was found drowned in the canal’. This source comments that he ‘gave early promise of extraordinary musical genius, and the specimens he has left behind him indicate extraordinary musical talents.’ His obituary in the Dublin Evening Post (3 and 7 Nov. 1801) described him as ‘an eminent musician, whose excellent compositions are justly admired’.
Geary's early death is generally acknowledged as having robbed Ireland of one of the most promising musical talents of his time. The fact that his music was published not only in Dublin but, in some cases, also in London, and even New York and Philadelphia, during his lifetime or very soon afterwards reflects the popularity and quality of the best of his varied output of songs and instrumental music. One song in particular, ‘The glasses sparkle on the board’, remained popular through much of the nineteenth century, being republished (although no longer attributed to Geary) as late as the 1870s. His songs demonstrate considerable sensitivity and maturity, particularly in their word-setting and keyboard accompaniments. His instrumental works consist mainly of variations or rondos for piano on popular tunes of the day, sometimes with violin. ‘A new ground, with 24 variations for the piano forte’ is perhaps his most extended, wholly original instrumental composition.