Beckett, George Francis (1877–1961), architect, was born 15 April 1877 in Dublin, one of several sons in a family of five children of James Beckett , builder (founder and president of the Dublin Master Builders' Association), and his second wife, Frances (née Horner). He was educated in Rathmines school, Dublin. Having aspired to become an architect from childhood, he spent four years as pupil and junior assistant to James Franklin Fuller (qv) before joining the office of Thomas Worthington & Son in Manchester.
He returned to Dublin (1897) and established an extensive practice from 97 Stephen's Green. His first important commission was the tea-rooms and restaurant of the Dublin Bread Company, 6–7 Lower Sackville (O'Connell) St.: a striking building constructed (c.1900) on a steel frame, faced in brick with Portland stone dressings, its huge tower provided panoramic views over the city; destroyed during the 1916 rising, it was replaced by a cinema. Beckett had a great affection for Gothic architecture and designed methodist churches throughout Ireland, including those in Dolphin's Barn, Dublin, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, and Killarney, Co. Kerry. Other works included Rank's flour mills in Cork and Dublin, factories, and several branches of the Munster & Leinster Bank, notably those in Cork and Limerick. In 1919, after taking Cyril Ashlin Harrington into partnership, his business was renamed Beckett & Harrington.
A member (from 1900) of the AAI, he held various offices almost continously from 1901 to 1920 (including the presidency, 1909, 1919), and was the first to receive the Downes bronze medal for measured drawings (1906). He was also a member of the RIAI from 1905, held many offices (including the presidency, 1932–4), and was a member of its town planning committee (1927–30, 1937–42). A man of wide sympathies and public spirit, he was a member (from 1921) and officer of the Civics Institute of Ireland; he served on its town-planning committee and was particularly concerned with slum clearance and the provision of children's playgrounds. In 1923 he became chairman of the organising committee of the Dublin civic survey, in which he was co-author of a new town plan.
Modest and of great integrity, he retired in 1950. He lived at 73 Lansdowne Rd, Dublin. He died 21 November 1961, and was buried in Dean's Grange cemetery, Co. Dublin. James Walter Beckett (qv), TD and building contractor, was his brother and often acted as his contractor. He was related to Samuel Beckett (qv). He married (1902) Edith Alice Park; they had at least one son and two daughters.
His daughter, Frances Elaine (‘Primrose’) McConnell (1906–91), married (1934) the Rev. H. Ormonde McConnell (1903–98), methodist minister, and together they worked for thirty-six years as missionaries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. They learned Creole (the unwritten language of the people), developed a written language based on phonetics, adopted the Laubach teaching method, and organised child and adult literacy programmes. They founded the Nouveau Collège Bird (which by 1991 had 2,000 pupils), and published books on a variety of subjects in Creole, which became known as Haitian and was recognised as the official language together with French. Ormonde McConnell was created an officier de l'ordre national honneur et mérite de la République d'Haiti. A new church designed by Beckett was opened in 1954. Other projects included rural rehabilitation schemes. Primrose, gentle and gracious, was a gifted musician, sang, and played piano and organ. Retiring (1970), they returned to Ireland. Primrose died 29 May 1991 and was buried at Holywood, Co. Down. A thanksgiving service was held for her in the methodist church at Port-au-Prince. Ormonde was awarded an MBE, wrote Co-workers with God (1991) and died 5 January 1998 and was buried beside his wife. They had four children.