William Geary has had the extreme good fortune to live 100 years. Few benefit so nicely from the fortuitous combination of genetics, rectitude and circumstance. Still, for more than two-thirds of his lifetime to this point — roughly equal to the lifespan of the average American male — Geary has lived under the specter of disgrace.
In 1928, he was dismissed from his post as a Garda superintendent after having been accused of taking bribes from the IRA. It was, of course, a tumultuous time in Ireland’s history. The fight for independence and civil war had rubbed raw latent divisions within society. It’s not hard to imagine that someone could be scapegoated for running afoul of a superior.
It could not have been easy for Geary to live so long under such a cloud. But he never stopped fighting to clear his name. Maybe his dedication to the task is responsible in some way for his longevity. In any case, 71 years later, the Irish government last week finally cleared Geary, saying that if the evidence used against him in 1928 were used today, he would not be found guilty.
Geary will receive £50,000 and his pension. A nice chunk of change, but nowhere near as valuable as vindication.