Irene Manning Clayton was Viki Lord Riley's childhood friend and college roommate. Irene had been raised in Llanview but had relocated to Chicago in the early 1960s, where she raised her daughter Tina largely as a single mother. Irene had married a man named Ted Clayton, whom Tina believed was her biological father, but the brief marriage had ended in divorce and Tina grew up knowing little about him.
In 1978, a very ill Irene returned to Llanview and asked Viki to look after Tina, who was now 16 years old. Irene had named Viki as Tina's godmother, and Viki knew Irene had nowhere else to turn. Irene quickly succumbed to cancer, and Viki took Tina in. Irene's ex-husband Ted eventually showed in Llanview and caused much trouble for Tina and Viki before being shot dead in front of Tina, who left town.
Tina returned to Llanview in 1984, having discovered in her mother's diary that Ted Clayton was not her biological father after all. After a year of searching for her true paternity, Tina found a letter from Viki's father Victor Lord in which he confessed that he and Irene had once been married and that Tina was his daughter. Viki refused to believe it, but eventually she was forced to accept the truth after recalling a long-repressed memory of seeing Victor and Irene in bed together.
Irene's past with Victor resurfaced yet again in 1994 when Dorian Lord was accused of murdering Victor 18 years earlier. Dorian was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death, but was freed after a man named David Vickers surfaced with a diary in which Irene confessed to having smothered Victor. That part of the diary had been forged, but Irene also revealed in the diary that she had given birth to a son by Victor after they were divorced. David claimed to be that son, although he was lying in the hopes of claiming the inheritance Victor had promised his son when he turned 25 years old. The true heir turned out to be Todd Manning, a convicted rapist, who had been raised by Irene's cousin Peter Manning and his wife Bitsy.
In 2011, Irene turned up alive in an undisclosed location where she was running a top-secret firm that went by the name Security Systems. Irene chastised one of her employees, rogue CIA agent Malcolm Baker, for allowing one of their prisoners to escape. The prisoner, who bore Todd Manning's original face and believed he was Todd Manning, had been held in the undisclosed location for eight years as Baker tried to extract useful information from him. The man fled to Llanview and discovered that another man claimed to be Todd Manning. Initial tests showed that both men had the same DNA.
Agent Baker returned to the facility, which was on the bayou in Louisiana, and was castigated by Irene for allowing the prisoner to slip through his fingers. Irene was stunned when Llanview Police Detective John McBain barged into her office, having followed Baker to the facility. Irene was brought back to Llanview and right to the front door of Llanfair, where Viki was stunned to see her believed-dead roommate and best friend standing before her. Irene explained that she had lied to Viki about dying from cancer in the 1970s because she wanted her daughter Tina to have a better life, and to reunite Tina with her sister. Irene then stated that two brothers had also been reunited, revealing that both men were identical twins.
Irene had given the boy she named Todd to Peter Manning and raised the other child, named Victor Jr., by herself. She explained she got involved in the CIA and, after learning of Todd's inheritance in Victor Lord's will, decided to launch an elaborate plan to ensure her other son Victor Jr. was also provided for. She had Todd kidnapped and brought to the secret CIA facility, where she had Victor Jr. brainwashed into believing he was Todd so he could take over Todd's life. But realizing that Mitch was still after Todd, Irene gave Victor plastic surgery so he would appear to be Mitch's long-lost brother Walker Laurence. Victor came to Llanview in May 2003, introduced himself as Walker and quickly became ensconced in Todd's former life before revealing that he was Todd - a lie that even he believed. After revealing the truth, Irene was taken to the Llanview jail while authorities figured out how to deal with her.
Irene phoned Victor from jail and convinced him to come see her. Irene tried to exert her control over Victor and convince him to bail her out of jail, but Victor nearly strangled her to death before the cops pulled him off of her. Irene warned Victor that Todd would take everything away from him, including his children, Blair and Téa. While Irene was in jail, someone shot and killed Victor Jr. The police arrested Todd on suspicion of murder after Jack falsely claimed that he had seen Todd at the house on the night of the murder. Irene taunted Todd from the next jail cell, telling him she had the gun he had stolen from Dorian's home - which Todd believed would exonerate him - and would give it to him if Todd handed over the microchip that he had stolen from her years earlier. Todd claimed to remember nothing about the microchip.
The CIA learned about Irene's incarceration and arranged her release. Irene went to Viki, pretending to be interested in rekindling their friendship. She actually was planning to shoot Viki but changed plans when Viki got a call from Blair informing her that Victor's will was going to be read. Irene insisted on accompanying Viki to Victor's house. Tina showed up, having just learned of her brother's death, and passed out when she discovered that her mother was still alive. Everyone was shocked when Victor's will left everything to Irene, but Irene seemed to be expecting the news and let flash an evil grin. Tina tried to cozy up to Irene in a blatant attempt to get rewarded, and Irene handed over the ring that Victor Sr. had left for Todd all those years ago.
After Irene left, she arranged for a bomb to be planted outside Victor's home, determined to make Todd pay for disobeying her. Todd and Starr showed up at Victor's house. Todd explained he had received a note from Irene in which she threatened to take out everyone in Todd's family if he didn't hand over the chip. When Todd saw his father's ring, he remembered having put the microchip inside the ring. Todd pried the ring from Tina's hands and went to meet Irene on the docks, where he hoped to exchange the ring for the gun that would clear his name. But Irene told Todd that Louie and the gun were at the bottom of the river. Todd threw the ring in the water, enraging Irene to the point that she shot Todd in the shoulder. They heard a loud explosion in the distance, and Irene told Todd that she had just blown up Victor's house with all of Todd's family inside. Todd grabbed the gun from Irene and shot her in the stomach, killing her.
Irene began showing up to Todd in visions, and eventually she helped him remember that he was the one who actually shot Victor Jr.