Boardwalk Empire Wiki

Time out

McGarrigle is shot in the background.

John McGarrigle, played by Ted Rooney, is a puritanical Irish politician. He works as a fund raiser for the Sinn Fein party and is a leader in the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He is killed by his own men on July 2, 1921 to allow the IRA to trade liquor for weapons with Nucky Thompson.


Season 2[]

He visits Atlantic City as part of a fundraising trip around America. He collects money from Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson and arranges for his bodyguard Owen Sleater to remain in America when he returns to Ireland.

McGarrigle’s youngest son is killed while fighting for the IRA early in June 1921. He was shot in the head by an English soldier.

On July 1, 1921 Nucky waits to meet with McGarrigle in a mortuary basement in Belfast, Ireland. A door is heard opening upstairs and Sleater descends with McGarrigle and his driver. Nucky and McGarrigle greet one another and McGarrigle says that he has heard that misfortune has found Nucky. Nucky light heartedly says that it comes to everyone eventually. McGarrigle notes that Nucky has travelled a long way to bury the dead and Nucky signals Sleater to open the coffin; it is packed with Thompson machine guns. McGarrigle is shocked at the incongruous arsenal and Sleater says that a single Thompson can kill a platoon of men in seconds. Nucky calls the guns a donation to the rebellion against British rule. McGarrigle asks how many guns there are and Nucky informs him that there are 12 in the coffin and then reminds him of his need for the guns. McGarrigle says that 100 might make a difference and Nucky responds that he has access to 3000 via the Atlantic City Armoury. McGarrigle turns to Sleater with a disbelieving look, Sleater grins back at him. McGarrigle wonders what Nucky wants in exchange for the guns and Nucky asks for Irish whiskey. McGarrigle turns back to Sleater and disparages Nucky’s character along with Sleater’s association with Nucky. Sleater looks at Nucky who angrily reminds McGarrigle that he found him good enough when he wanted money. McGarrigle offers to present Nucky’s proposition to the leadership of the IRA. Nucky is unimpressed with this, stating that he thought they wanted weapons. Sleater says that Nucky is speaking the truth and Nucky asks McGarrigle to confirm interest. McGarrigle insists on discussing the offer and Nucky asks McGarrigle to bring him to the man in charge. McGarrigle stubbornly asserts that they will tend to their own affairs. He promises to send word and follows his driver up out of the basement. ("Battle of the Century")

On the estate of an IRA leader Nucky fires a full drum of ammunition into a grandfather clock as a demonstration of the Thompson. His audience includes Sleater, the owner of the estate, Patrick, Daniel Fitzgerald, Bill Neilan and another IRA leader. McGarrigle drives onto the estate in a red town car. He gets out and his driver closes the door behind him. Patrick jokes that McGarrigle missed the fireworks and Fitzgerald adds that Nucky easily defeated the clock. McGarrigle observes that nothing stops Fitzgerald’s merriment. Fitzgerald counters that death is long. Neilan asks McGarrigle for his news and McGarrigle reports that the British have offered a truce. Sleater is irritated that this is being considered. McGarrigle adds that Sinn Fein president Eamon de Valera is travelling to London to negotiate terms. Nucky wonders what is on the table and McGarrigle explains that the British are offering a free state. Patrick angrily asserts that a free state is not independence. Their host interjects that Patrick has not yet heard the proposals. Patrick believes they would still be under British dominion and Fitzgerald asserts that it is good enough for de Valera to consider. Patrick reminds the others that they swore to fight to the bitter end and McGarrigle suggests that they may have reached it. Patrick is disbelieving and asks McGarrigle if he really thinks this. McGarrigle says that there is enough blood on the ground for both of their lifetimes. McGarrigle says that he will fight if he must and make peace if it is wise while Neilan shares a sideways glance with Sleater. McGarrigle’s man turns the car around and he gets in. ("Battle of the Century")

Nucky eats dinner with McGarrigle at his home. McGarrigle marvels at Nucky’s proposal to trade arms for whiskey. Nucky comments that he does not have the funds available to buy the liquor. McGarrigle insults Nucky by wondering if he even has access to the guns and says that Nucky has only proven that he has a dozen and performed a stunt in a field with one of them. Nucky wonders if McGarrigle can afford to decline his offer and McGarrigle says that it is his to live with if he does. Nucky is perturbed by his stubbornness and looks back at Sleater. Nucky argues that Britain has given no considerations in the run up to peace talk; no prisoner releases, further troops in Ireland, weapons seizures and threats of martial law. McGarrigle asserts that one side must take the lead if the fighting is to stop. Nucky criticises this as a strategy that puts McGarrigle’s people at risk. McGarrigle says that the risk is worthwhile eliciting a sigh from Nucky. Nucky reminds McGarrigle that he was helpful when McGarrigle was in need and wants McGarrigle to reciprocate. McGarrigle doubts Nucky’s belief in his cause and wonders if Nucky has considered the lives that his automatic weapons will cost. McGarrigle believes that Nucky is without conscience. Nucky angrily demands honesty and says that whenever men like McGarrigle need to win a conflict they will turn to those who can deliver. Nucky leaves the table and asks Sleater to take him back to the farm. ("Battle of the Century")

McGarrigle asks Sleater for a word in private. Sleater sighs and remains behind. McGarrigle wonders what Sleater has been doing with Nucky. Sleater says that he has followed Nucky’s orders and continued to pursue his own goals. McGarrigle observes that Nucky is self-interested and Sleater offers that Nucky is in a war of his own. McGarrigle wonders what Nucky is fighting for and Sleater says money. McGarrigle believes this is all American’s fight for and Sleater says that it keeps them busy. McGarrigle says that Sleater has changed and the younger man laughs and denies it. McGarrigle asks Sleater to stay in Ireland and Sleater interrupts, saying that he is not a peacemaker. McGarrigle counters that he has always known that Sleater is sensible and admits that he wants him close. Sleater looks away and McGarrigle tells him that he must understand that all battles end. Sleater smiles and McGarrigle asks for his help. Sleater says that he will serve as needed, takes food from the table and leaves. ("Battle of the Century")

Nucky and Sleater exit the home of their host and he tells them his door is always open. McGarrigle puts a hand to Patrick’s arm and Patrick looks away. Sleater holds the door of the car open for Nucky as McGarrigle says that Nucky is heading back to America. Nucky observes that he is empty handed and McGarrigle says that Nucky will doubtless land on his feet. McGarrigle’s driver stands behind Nucky. Nucky says that he is not so sure. McGarrigle says that he thought all American’s were optimists and Nucky says that Irish Americans are not. McGarrigle laughs and wags his finger at Nucky. Nucky is surprised to find Neilan waiting in the car for him. Neilan invites him to sit, Nucky glances at Sleater who gives a slight nod. McGarrigle asks Neilan to see Nucky safely to the port and Neilan promises to do so. Neilan taps on the door and Sleater pulls away. As McGarrigle goes to get in his own car Patrick pulls a gun and shoots him in the back of the head killing him. Patrick fires once more at his body on the ground. With McGarrigle dead Neilan arranges to trade with Nucky on the way to the port. Sleater later admits that he knew the assassination was going to happen but felt there was nothing he could do to stop it. Eamon de Valera goes on to sign a truce with the British leading to the Anglo-Irish treaty that causes a split within the IRA and the Irish Civil War. ("Battle of the Century")


Memorable Quotes[]


Season two appearances
21 Ourselves Alone A Dangerous Maid What Does the Bee Do?
Gimcrack & Bunkum The Age of Reason Peg of Old Two Boats and a Lifeguard
Battle of the Century Georgia Peaches Under God's Power She Flourishes To the Lost