Gilmore, George Frederick (1898–1985), republican socialist, was born 5 May 1898 on Hillside Terrace, Howth, Co. Dublin, the second son and second child among at least four sons and two daughters of Philip Gilmore, an accountant and evangelical protestant preacher from Co. Antrim, and his wife Fanny (née Angus), from Co. Dublin. The family later lived at 5 Warrenpoint, Clontarf (1910s), and at Bellosguardo, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock (early 1920s). One of Dublin's leading accountants, with offices for many years at 8 Anglesea Street, Philip Gilmore often acted as a financial adviser to unionist landlords. The Gilmore boys were educated at home to shield them from corruptive worldly influences. Despite their background, George and his brothers Harry and Charlie turned towards republicanism, and from 1916 George was active first in Na Fianna Éireann, and then in the South Co. Dublin battalion of the Irish Volunteers. He opposed the Anglo–Irish treaty, commencing a decade in which he spent much time in prison. He escaped from custody in Dublin in August 1923, prompting riots and hunger strikes amongst the remaining prisoners, who were subjected to solitary confinement and a stricter regime after his escape.
Gilmore began working as secretary to Seán Lemass (qv), and along with Frank Aiken (qv), the three regularly met the IRA army council in the early 1920s. Contemporary IRA activists with whom he also worked closely included Frank Ryan (qv), Peadar O'Donnell (qv), and Seán Russell (qv). Gilmore considered Lemass to be exceptionally cool in emergencies, with a single-minded attention to detail, and together the two men planned a successful mass escape of nineteen IRA prisoners from Mountjoy jail on 27 November 1925, which involved Gilmore in impersonating a garda sergeant to gain access to the prison. None of the prisoners was recaptured, and it proved a major propaganda coup for the republicans and an acute embarrassment for the Free State government. In November 1927, after an armistice-day riot, Gilmore was arrested and sentenced to eighteen months in prison. As always, he resisted arrest, refused to wear prison clothes, and commenced a hunger strike. Early the following year, IRA volunteers fired on the principal warder of Mountjoy jail after Gilmore was viciously beaten by prison officers. In November 1929, having just been released, he was again arrested and beaten unconscious. He was said to have visited the Soviet Union briefly early in 1930 in an abortive attempt to secure aid in the training of IRA officers, though mystery shrouds the details of this trip. Arrested yet again in April 1931 on a charge of having resisted when arrested ten months earlier, Gilmore nearly escaped with his brother Charlie from Mountjoy jail in October by brandishing wooden pistols covered in silver paper. An arms dump having been discovered in June 1931 near George's home at Killakee in the Dublin mountains, the two Gilmore brothers were tried before the military tribunal established under the newly promulgated public safety act, George being sentenced to five years' imprisonment and Charlie to three (December 1931). Both men refused to recognise the tribunal, George stating: 'I do not want anybody to think I excuse myself for such a charge as having arms I am admittedly hostile to British imperialism and international capitalism' (Bell, 91).
From an early stage Gilmore, who despised sectarianism and cherished the republicanism of Wolfe Tone (qv), was anxious that the republican movement develop a strong political philosophy grounded in socialism. He supported the group Saor Éire from his prison cell, but seems to have concluded that too much time had been given to drawing up programmes for a republican government in the future, and he began to strive for an immediate definition of the IRA's aims. After the victory of Fianna Fáil in the general election of 1932 he was released under the general amnesty and turned his attention to the need for a new political organisation. In the same year he informed the IRA that they must not allow the army to develop into a tool of the Irish capitalist class. By the following year he expressed the view that the IRA and Fianna Fáil hardly differed in terms of respective policies, and he encouraged the IRA to diverge from the government, in order that imprisoned IRA members would not become a propaganda tool. In March 1934 at an IRA convention in Dublin, along with Frank Ryan and Peadar O'Donnell, he refused to allow his name to go forward for nomination to the IRA executive, not wishing to curtail their criticisms of the IRA's lack of political development. Their proposal to form a republican congress, to broaden the political parameters of the republican movement, was defeated; in April the dissidents met in Athlone to cultivate support for a republican congress, and were subsequently court-martialled and expelled by the IRA.
The new Republican Congress convention was held in Rathmines, Dublin (September 1934); the 183 delegates listened to Gilmore accusing Fianna Fáil of using republican phraseology in order to promote Irish capitalism. Despite Gilmore's claim in The Republican Congress (1935) that the Rathmines meeting raised the republican struggle to a new high level, by the end of 1934 the organisation, working from an office in Abbey St., Dublin, was in debt, and a visit by Gilmore to America in December 1934, in an attempt to raise funds, resulted merely in a statement from certain Irish-American organisations calling for a reunification of Irish republicanism. Notwithstanding attempts to coordinate republican and labour strikes in Dublin the following year, by the end of 1936 the congress had effectively ceased to exist. Following the outbreak of the Spanish civil war, Gilmore and Peadar O'Donnell visited Spain, and Gilmore was lucky to survive a plane crash, which resulted in a broken leg. Both men returned to Ireland urging support for the republican side. After the outbreak of the second world war in September 1939, Gilmore and O'Donnell published an appeal to the IRA to cease operations and dump arms until the war was over; Gilmore also wrote an article denouncing the IRA for flirting with fascism by seeking German aid.
Little was heard from Gilmore and his associates in the following two decades, but after the formation of the Wolfe Tone Society (1964) he began to speak to a new generation of republicans. During the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter rising (1966) in a pamphlet on Labour and the republican movement he espoused the principles of James Connolly (qv) and appealed to younger republicans not to repeat the mistakes of their predecessors by being rich in principle but disastrously short on policy. In latter years Gilmore, regarded by colleagues as modest, unselfish, and courageous, as well as having an incisive intellect and strong artistic sensibilities, saw the peace movement and CND as one of the few hopes of transcending sectarianism in Northern Ireland. He died in a Dublin nursing home on 20 June 1985, survived by his brother Charlie.