The History of My Family: W.B. “Leda”, her Murder and Why he Abandoned his Son

Patricia Hughes


William Butler Yeats had an extra-marital lover, Lily O’Neill or Honor Bright, from 1918 to 1925. Garda Superintendent Leopold Dillon murdered her on orders from Kevin O’Higgins, Minister of Justice of the Irish Free State. George, Yeats’s wife, reported falsely that Lily was a Republican spy. O’Higgins wanted to restore credence in the Free State, which would otherwise have been reclaimed by the British due to maladministration. Afterwards a bogus trial was concocted outside the court circuit by Chief Superintendent David Neligan, at which Lily was reinvented as a prostitute to conceal Yeats’s affair and son and hide the involvement of Free State officials. On the strength of false evidence the jury unanimously acquitted the assassin after three minutes’ deliberation.

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