Father James McNally was born to Alfred and Matilda McNally (nee Brown) on 29 January 1889 in Hayrod Street, Manchester. His father was an iron fitter.
He was educated at Douai, (where he shone at athletics) and the English College Rome between 1910-1916, but returned to England because of illness, finishing his studies under Fr. Edmund O’Connor at Plowden.
Father McNally was ordained by Bishop Singleton at St.Vincent’s Altrincham on 21 January 1917, becoming curate at Hyde between 1917-1919 and curate at Our Lady’s Birkenhead (1919-1923). He was appointed Bishop’s Secretary in 1923 to 1933 and was also Parish Priest at Holy Name, Birkenhead at this time.
Father McNally then became Parish Priest at several parishes: English Martyrs, Wallasey (1933-1941); St. Albans, Wallasey (1941-1951) and Holy Name, Birkenhead (1951-1960) where he wrote an excellent history of the parish which appeared in Shrewsbury Diocesan Year Book 1960. He became Canon in 1950 and was noted for his keeness on Plain Chant.
He died on 9 January 1960 and is buried at Landican Cemetary, Birkenhead. Father McNally was half-brother to Alfred McNally, who also became a priest in the Shrewsbury Diocese.