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13 February 1820 -200 years ago today - Leonard McNally, playwright, barrister, United Irishman and an Informer died on this day.


PI Member
Sep 4, 2018
13 February 1820: Leonard McNally, playwright, barrister, United Irishman and an Informer died on this day. He was born in Dublin in 1752, and became a barrister in England before returning home to practise at the Irish Bar. He was one of the original members of the Society of United Irishmen and came to and defended many of its members in the Courts. He turned informer in 1794 following the arrest of the French agent the Rev Jackson. The general opinion is that his nerve snapped under threats during interrogation but the exact circumstances that led to his decision to become a tout remain unclear.

His play Robin Hood (1784) was playing in Dublin on the night in 1798 when Lord Edward Fitzgerald was captured on foot of information he had provided. During the Rising of 1798 and in 1803 he found himself in the bizarre situation of taking money both from revolutionary defendants before the Courts and from Dublin Castle for providing them with information that would compromise his clients. While some had their doubts, and indeed one ‘doubter’ sent him a snake in a parcel from America as a token of gratitude, his dark secret remained hidden until his death in 1820. Ironically he was given a Patriots funeral. It was only when his family demanded that his pension of £300 per annum be continued that his secret life as a traitor was exposed.

He died at 22 Harcourt-street Dublin, 13th February 1820, aged 68. Then only did his treachery appear. His heir claimed a continuance of a secret service pension of £300 a year, which his father had enjoyed since 1798. The Lord-Lieutenant demanded a detailed statement of the circumstances under which the agreement had been made; it was furnished after some hesitation, and the startling fact became generally known, not only that he had been in regular receipt of the pension claimed, but that during the state trials of 1798 and 1803, while he was receiving fees from the prisoners to defend them, he also accepted large sums from Government to betray the secrets of their defence. The Cornwallis Correspondence, Madden's Lives of the United Irishmen, and communications from Mr. FitzPatrick in Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, put all this beyond doubt.
A Compendium of Irish Biography: Richard Webb Dublin 1878

Myles O'Reilly

Top Bloke
PI Member
Feb 3, 2017
What a kant

TW Tone

PI Member
May 5, 2019
Wherever Green is Worn
Reynolds was another SOB of that era.
Only God know how many others there were--McNally was just posthumously discovered by chance.
The United leadership were in many cases sophisticated men of the world.
But they were like babies when it came to penetration by informers.

Of course even 1798 did not produce the turpitude of the modern IRA.
A man (Steaknife) ordering the murder of 'informers' (most of them innocent, I suspect) who was himself an informer.

The Republican leadership have avoided answering questions about how this happened.
As have the British who 'ran' Steaknife.

No accident that we never had a Truth Commission.

Black & Trans

PI Member
Jan 18, 2020
13 February 1820: Leonard McNally, tout
Very good post. There is a lot more to this. The same families have controlled our judicial system since then, the McNeill/O'Higgins lot in particular. Jennifer Carrol, who is married to Hugo McNeill, is noow a FG TD, having benefited from the ousting of Maria Bailey and the strange death of her GAA based da.
I am convinced that MI5 have controlled our system from 1798 on. Some 1798 files have yet to be reelased, no doubt to protect certain families. Dan Breen wrote how every village had armies of touts. There were bigger ones too, entire colonies of them.

Trolls/Mods: I have inserted tout into the quotes for brevity, not to twist what Catalpa said.
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