Fitzgerald, Séamus (1896–1972), politician and businessman, was born 3 September 1896 at East Hill, Queenstown (Cobh), the third child of five sons of James Fitzgerald, sailor, merchant navy, and his wife, Alice Archdeacon, both from Cobh. He was educated at the local Presentation brothers' college and started an apprenticeship in HM dockyards, Haulbowline in 1912. He joined the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin after Easter week 1916, was arrested and sent to Frongoch, Wales, one of the seven places in which he was interned in subsequent years. He was suspended from the dockyard in 1916 as a result of his arrest but later reinstated. He was a member of the Sinn Féin ard chomhairle from 1918–20, and director of elections for Sinn Féin in the mid-Down constituency when Sir James Craig (qv) (Unionist) was elected in 1918. The Sinn Féin candidate at the time was Joseph Robinson, then a political prisoner in Barlinnie jail, Glasgow. Fitzgerald was president of the east Cork republican district court in 1920, and chairman of Queenstown urban council when it pledged allegiance to Dáil Éireann. During his term in charge of Dáil Éireann publicity for Cork city and county (1920–21), he submitted sworn witness testimonies to the British parliamentary labour commission and to the American commission of enquiry into British atrocities in Ireland.
Nominated as Sinn Féin candidate for Cork East/North East on 24 May 1921, he was the youngest member of the second Dáil at the age of 23. He voted against the Anglo-Irish treaty on 7 January 1922. In the two following general elections, June 1922 and August 1923, he stood unsuccessfully as a republican candidate. He chaired the inaugural meeting of the Fianna Fáil party in Cork in 1927 and stood unsuccessfully as a Fianna Fáil candidate for Cork East in the September 1927 election; his commitment was rewarded by a term in the senate from 1934 to its abolition in 1936. Thereafter he stood for elections five times in Cork city and Cork east constituencies, being elected for Cork city from 1943–4. He was a member of the Cobh urban district council on ten occasions up to 1950, a member of Cork county council 1920–2 and 1932–6, and a member of the Cork harbour commissioners from 4 February 1920 until his death.
In partnership with his brothers, he founded Fitzgerald and Co. in 1931, and Cork Radio and Electrical Trading Co. For a time he was also involved in running the New States Hotel, Cobh and the Lido cinema, Cork. He was pivotal in opening Irish Steel Ltd in 1939 (later Irish Ispat Ltd), Haulbowline. During the second world war he held the rank of lieutenant in the naval service and was involved in organising and drilling the Cork maritime inscription (reserve volunteers) and competent port authority (harbour patrols). From the 1930s he advocated an airport for Cork and his membership of a number of complementary bodies helped him push this project; the airport opened in 1961 at Farmer's Cross, 6km south of the city. He was appointed to the boards of Aer Rianta (1937–51) and Aer Lingus (1942–51).
A founder member of the Cobh chamber of commerce, he was its president in 1957–8. It was through the latter that he helped establish the Cork economic development council in 1956, instrumental in attracting foreign investors to Cork. He was a member of the ESB superannuation tribunal for four years and acted as an arbitrator for the Cork building industry for twenty years. He was also involved with the Irish Tourist Association (later amalgamated into Bord Fáilte). A founder chairman of Verolme (Cork) dockyard, he was appointed director in 1959 and helped secure Irish government support. He retired from this directorship in 1970.
A lifelong Irish-speaker and supporter of the language revival movement, he was founder director of Gaedhealachas Teoranta, a limited company set up to build and invest in Irish-language schools at Trabolgan and Glanmire, Co. Cork, and five Irish summer schools in Cork and Kerry. He was involved in supporting and organising the annual Tóstal festival in Cork from 1953. His presidency of the Cork orchestral society proved controversial when in that capacity he welcomed the Fine Gael taoiseach, John A. Costello (qv), to his home. He was accused by members of the local Fianna Fáil cumann of turning his back on the party and letters both supporting and denouncing him were sent to Eamon de Valera (qv). He was co-opted as a member of the governing body of UCC (1938–71) and was appointed by the government to the commission on the accommodation needs of the NUI colleges (1957–59), which was chaired by Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh (qv). In recognition of his contributions to the civic life of Cork, UCC conferred him with a degree of Doctor of Laws, h.c., in 1949. He married Mary Harrington from Clonakilty, Co. Cork in 1927 and they had two sons, Patrick and James, and a daughter, Mary.
Fitzgerald died at his residence, Carrigbeg, Summerhill, Cork, 23 April 1972.