Artist Catalog

Leonard McNally

Born: August 23 2017
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Leonard McNally

Leonard McNally (1752–1820), sometimes spelled MacNally or Macnally, was a Dublin barrister, playwright, lyricist, founding member of the United Irishmen and spy for the British Government within Irish republican circles.

He was a successful lawyer in late 18th and early 19th century Dublin, and wrote a law book that was crucial in the development of the "beyond reasonable doubt" standard in criminal trials. However, during his time, he was best known for his popular comic operas and plays, together with his most enduring work, the romantic song "The Lass of Richmond Hill". He is now mainly remembered as a very important informer for the British government within the Irish revolutionary society, the United Irishmen and played a major role in the defeat of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. In return for payments from the government, McNally would betray his United Irishmen colleagues to the authorities and then, as defence counsel at their trial, secretly collaborate with the prosecution to secure a conviction. His notable republican clients included Napper Tandy, Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet and Lord Edward FitzGerald.
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