McGrath, George (c.1876–1948), accountant and civil servant, was born in Dublin, second child and eldest son among three daughters and three sons of George McGrath, stonemason, and Mary McGrath (née Dempsey). From 1910 to 1919 he was employed in the accounting firm Craig Gardner, where he spent much time in work on liquidations in Sligo and Tuam. Among his colleagues in Craig Gardner were his brother Joseph (qv) and Michael Collins (qv). In 1919, at the request of Collins, then minister for finance in the breakaway dáil government, he became accountant general to the first dáil. The success of the revolutionary government in raising a national loan and establishing and administering an effective finance ministry was due largely to the efficient and meticulous work of Collins and McGrath. In November 1922 McGrath travelled to the USA on behalf of the dáil to learn about managing government finances, and on 12 January 1923 was appointed the first comptroller and auditor general of the Irish Free State. His appointment was opposed by the Labour Party leader, Thomas Johnson (qv), on the grounds that he was a brother to the minister for industry and commerce, Joseph McGrath. As comptroller and auditor general he was successful in establishing an effective audit and accounting system which helped ensure the financial stability of the new state. His most difficult task was making the army accountable for its spending, which he eventually achieved by 1931. He retired 17 April 1944 because of ill-health. He lived at ‘Rose Hill’, Carysfort Ave., Blackrock, and died 18 May 1945 in Jervis Street private hospital, leaving an estate of £2,331.
NAI, Dept Taoiseach, S9213; Ir. Ind., 19 May 1948; Howard W. Robinson, A history of accountants in Ireland (1964); Ronan Fanning, The Irish Department of Finance, 1922–58 (1978); Muiris MacCarthaigh, ‘Paying for independence: George McGrath and the development of the office of the comptroller and auditor general, 1923–44’ (MA thesis, NUI (UCD), 1999)