On October 3, 1750, one of the most famous Irish highwaymen of all time was executed at Tyburn outside London in front of a crowd of thousands. In this ten-minute podcast, the first in the series “This Week in Irish History, from the Irish History Podcast, you will hear the story of the fascinating life of James McLaine.

Even though his crime spree only lasted two short years James MacLaine was famous as a gentleman highwayman in his own lifetime. Born in County Monaghan, in 1724, his life was at times stranger than fiction.

Indeed, it should come as no surprise that he and his partner in crime, fellow Irishman, William Plunkett have inspired numerous movies and books. The most recent was the 1999 Hollywood blockbuster “Plunkett & McCleane” starring Robert Carlisle, Jonny Lee Miller, and Liv Tyler. While the movie changes much about his life, not least his nationality and the spelling of his name, his actual life was at times even more outlandish than this fictional character. 

1999 Hollywood blockbuster “Plunkett & McCleane”.

1999 Hollywood blockbuster “Plunkett & McCleane”.

In this short podcast, the first in a new series “This Week in Irish History,” the truth behind MacLaine’s intriguing life is revealed.

During his youth in County Monaghan, he was an unlikely criminal, but this episode follows his life to England, where he began an unlikely path to celebrity criminal.

“This Week in Irish History” is Ireland's newest podcast series. Created by Fin Dwyer, this weekly podcast will cover sieges, battles, assassinations, and scandals from the last thousand years of Irish history. Next week the topic is Oliver Cromwell's siege of Wexford while coming episodes will look at a medieval royal visit to Ireland and an Irish hunger striker in 1920 during the War of Independence.

Subscribe to 'This Week in Irish History' today via iTunes or Spotify.

LISTEN: "Black 47" - the real history behind the new Irish Famine movie

* Fin Dwyer is a historian, author, and creator of The Irish History Podcast. Over the last seven years, he has been creating free podcasts which makes Irish history accessible to new audiences. He has covered diverse topics from the Middle Ages to the modern history. He is currently focusing on the story of the Great Hunger. With over three million individual downloads, the show is one of Ireland's most popular podcasts. You can find his podcast on iTunes.

This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.

Irish highwayman James McLaine.British Museum