Harry Boland

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Harry Boland
Boland in 1919
President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood
In office
1 May 1919 – 13 September 1920
Preceded bySeán McGarry
Succeeded byPatrick Moylett
Teachta Dála
In office
May 1921 – 1 August 1922
ConstituencyMayo South–Roscommon South
In office
December 1918 – May 1921
ConstituencyRoscommon South
Personal details
Henry James Boland

(1887-04-27)27 April 1887
Phibsborough, Dublin, Ireland
Died1 August 1922(1922-08-01) (aged 35)
Merrion Road, Dublin, Ireland
Resting placeGlasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, Ireland
Political partySinn Féin
EducationSynge Street CBS
Military service
Years of service1913–1922

Harry Boland (27 April 1887 – 1 August 1922) was an Irish republican politician who served as President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood from 1919 to 1920. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1918 to 1922.[1][2]

He was elected at the 1918 general election as the MP for Roscommon South, but as with other Sinn Féin candidates, he did not take seat in the British House of Commons, serving instead as a TD in the First Dáil.[3]

At the 1921 general election, Boland was elected to the second Dáil as one of the TDs for the Mayo South–Roscommon South. He was re-elected in 1922 as an Anti-Treaty candidate, but died two months later in the Irish Civil War.[4]

Early life[edit]

Boland was born at 6 Dalymount Terrace, Phibsborough, Dublin, on 27 April 1887, the son of Irish Republican Brotherhood member James Boland and Kate Woods.[5] He was active in GAA circles in early life, and refereed the 1914 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final. He joined the IRB at the same time as his older brother Gerry in 1904,[6] following in the footsteps of his father, uncle and probably grandfather. He was educated at the Synge Street CBS, but had a personality clash with one of the brothers so he refused to carry on his attendance at the school. He then went to De la Salle College, County Laois, as a novice.[7]

Irish nationalism[edit]

Boland later joined the Irish Volunteers along with Gerry and his younger brother Ned. They took an active part in the Easter Rising of 1916.

At the 1918 general election, Boland was elected as an MP for the Roscommon South seat.[8] In line with all the Sinn Féin MPs elected at that election, he did not represent his constituents at Westminster, but withdrew to sit in the declared independent Dáil Éireann (the First Dáil) and was named by Éamon de Valera as special envoy to the United States, a role his uncle Jack had played 25 years previously.[9] He left Ireland for the United States of America along with de Valera as part of a campaign to raise awareness and support for their cause in America. Boland negotiated a loan of $20,000 from the Irish Republic to the Soviet Republic through the head of the Soviet Bureau, Ludwig Martens, using some Russian jewellery as collateral.[10] These jewels were transferred to Ireland when he returned.

During the Irish War of Independence, Boland operated alongside Michael Collins, who was a close friend.

Civil War[edit]

Boland opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty. In the ensuing Irish Civil War, he sided with the Anti-Treaty IRA. In the 1922 general election, he was re-elected to the Dáil representing Mayo South–Roscommon South. Six weeks later, on 31 July, Boland was shot by soldiers of the National Army when they attempted to arrest him at the Skerries Grand Hotel.[11] Two officers entered his room and Boland, unarmed, was shot and mortally wounded during a struggle:[12]

"Reports of how and why he was shot vary and it is hard to establish an accurate historical reason, given the highly partisan views of the parties involved in the civil war conflict of brothers".[13]

He died the next day in St. Vincent's Hospital on 1 August 1922.[2] As he lay dying, he refused to give the name of his attacker to his sister, Kathleen.[14]

He was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery. The service took place from the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church. The hearse was followed by Cumann na mBan, Clan na Gael and the Citizen Army women's section.[15]

Boland's death affected Collins. It may also may have spurred him towards peace negotiations with De Valera.[citation needed]


Boland's brother, Gerald Boland, was a prominent member of Fianna Fáil and later served as Minister for Justice. His nephew, Kevin Boland, served as a Minister until he resigned in solidarity with the two ministers, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, who were sacked from the government in May 1970 during the Arms Crisis. Kevin Boland's resignation from Fianna Fáil and the subsequent loss of his seat marked the end of an era for the Boland political dynasty.

His nephew, Harry Boland, was a basketball player who competed in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. He died on 18 December 2013, at the age of 88.[16][17]

He also had a sister, Kathleen, who was entrusted, with her mother, with the safekeeping of jewels received from Russian diplomats as collateral for a loan made by the provisional government to the new Russian state in April 1920.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1991 TV movie The Treaty, Boland was portrayed by Malcolm Douglas.

In the 1996 film Michael Collins, Boland was portrayed by Irish-American actor Aidan Quinn. The film was criticised for fictionalising both Boland's death and Collins' life.[19]

See also[edit]


  • Brasier, Andrew and Kelly, John, Harry Boland: A Man Divided, (Dublin 2000)
  • Fitzpatrick, David Harry Boland's Irish Revolution, (Cork 2003)
  • Maher, Jim Harry Boland: A Biography, (Cork 1998)



  1. ^ "Residents of a house 26.2 in Lennox St. (Fitzwilliam, Dublin)". The National Archives of Ireland 1911 Census. Archived from the original on 24 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Death certificate of Henry Boland, 1922". civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie. Archived from the original on 6 February 2019. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Harry Boland". Oireachtas Members Database. Archived from the original on 8 November 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  4. ^ Fitzpatrick, David. "Boland, Henry James". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  5. ^ "General Registrar's Office". IrishGenealogy.ie. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  6. ^ Fitzpatrick, David (2004). Harry Boland's Irish Revolution (illustrated ed.). Cork University Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-85918-386-1.
  7. ^ "Harry Boland (1887–1922)". Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 61. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  8. ^ "Harry Boland". ElectionsIreland.org. Archived from the original on 19 October 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  9. ^ Kevin Boland. James Boland 1857–1895 A Nationalist of the Advanced School. Unpublished essay.
  10. ^ "Scolaire Staire, Vol 3 Issue 1". 25 January 2013. p. 25. Archived from the original on 22 September 2021. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  11. ^ Maher, Jim (1998). Harry Boland – A Biography. Mercier. pp. 241–242. ISBN 978-1-85635-236-9. Archived from the original on 22 September 2021. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  12. ^ The Times, Mr. Harry Boland Shot, 1 August 1922
  13. ^ Brasier, Andrew; Kelly, John (2000). Harry Boland – A Man Divided. New Century. p. 135. ISBN 0-9539669-0-9.
  14. ^ p272, James Mackay, Michael Collins: A Life;
  15. ^ The Times, Blow To Irish Rebels, 5 August 1922
  16. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Harry Boland". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  17. ^ McConnell, Daniel (22 December 2013). "Former Olympic great Harry Boland dies". Irish Independent. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  18. ^ Healy, Alison. "Russian jewels hidden in Dublin chimney breast in 1920". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 28 December 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  19. ^ "Film failed to do justice to drama surrounding death of Harry Boland". The Irish Times. 5 August 1997. Archived from the original on 22 March 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Roscommon South
Constituency abolished
New constituency Teachta Dála for Roscommon South
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood
Succeeded by