McCorley, the son of a miller, participated in the rebellion in Duneane, County Antrim. Some sources indicate that Roddy was a young Roman Catholic Defender, while others claim that he was a United Irishman of the Presbyterian faith. He and his family had been evicted from their farm before the rebellion owing to the execution of his father for stealing sheep, a charge thought to have been politically motivated. After the rebellion, Roddy went into hiding for almost a year, joining a company of soldiers who had deserted to the Irish cause, who were excluded from the terms of "surrender and protection" for fugitives. This company was called the "Archer gang" by their enemies. During an attempt to flee to the United States, McCorley was betrayed, captured by British soldiers and court-martialed in Ballymena. The trial and subsequent execution, where he is named "Roger MacCorley", is given in a contemporary issue of the The Belfast News-Letter issued in March, 1800.
He was executed on 28 February 1800 in the town of Toomebridge "near the bridge of Toome" which had been partially destroyed by rebels in 1798 to prevent the arrival of reinforcements from west of the River Bann. His body was then dissected by the British and buried under the Belfast–Derry road until the mid-19th century, when he was exhumed by a nephew working on road development and given a proper burial in an unmarked grave in Duneane churchyard.
His great-grandson, Roger McCorley, was an officer in the Irish Republican Army in the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921