Gerald Boland
Gerald Boland was an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 politician. A founder-member of the party, he served in a number of Cabinet positions, most notably as the country's longest-serving Minister for Justice.

Early life

Born in Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, Boland was the son of a Roscommon
County Roscommon
County Roscommon is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the town of Roscommon. Roscommon County Council is the local authority for the county...

 father and a Louth
County Louth
County Louth is a county of Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Louth. Louth County Council is the local authority for the county...

 mother. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Dublin where his father, who had been involved with the Fenian
The Fenians , both the Fenian Brotherhood and Irish Republican Brotherhood , were fraternal organisations dedicated to the establishment of an independent Irish Republic in the 19th and early 20th century. The name "Fenians" was first applied by John O'Mahony to the members of the Irish republican...

 rescue in Manchester in 1867, found employment with the Dublin Corporation
Dublin Corporation
Dublin Corporation , known by generations of Dubliners simply as The Corpo, is the former name given to the city government and its administrative organisation in Dublin between 1661 and 1 January 2002...

. The Boland family was not long in Dublin when the father was killed in a fight between Parnellites and Healyites for possession of the offices of the journal United Ireland. The family were plunged into poverty which was relieved somewhat when the Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

 organised a collection known as the "Boland Fund". The proceeds allowed Boland's mother to open a shop in Wexford Street.

After his national school education Boland attended the O'Brien Institute in Fairview
-Canada:* Fairview, Alberta * Fairview, British Columbia an old mining community* Fairview, Calgary, a neighbourhood in Calgary, Alberta* Fairview Mall, a shopping center in Toronto, Ontario* Fairview, Nova Scotia...

. He left school at fifteen and became an apprentice fitter at Broadstone Station
Broadstone (Dublin) railway station
Broadstone railway station, , the former Dublin terminus of the Midland Great Western Railway, is currently the headquarters of Bus Éireann, housing most of their administration and also one of their main garages...

. Instead of attending to his studies to secure an engineering diploma, Boland took Irish language
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 and history classes at night. In spite of this he passed his engineering exams.

Revolutionary years

It was around this time that Boland was invited to take the secret oath and join the Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Republican Brotherhood
The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland during the second half of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century...

. He subsequently joined the Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
The Irish Volunteers was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland"...

 when that organisation was established in 1913, serving in the same company as Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith
Arthur Griffith was the founder and third leader of Sinn Féin. He served as President of Dáil Éireann from January to August 1922, and was head of the Irish delegation at the negotiations in London that produced the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.-Early life:...

. When news broke out of the Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

 in 1916 Boland immediately left his job in Crooksling, however, he was bitterly disappointed when he found out that the order was countermandered. When the rebellion began in earnest on Easter Monday, he made his way to Jacob's Mill where he fought under Thomas McDonagh. Following the official surrender Boland was arrested and interned at Frongoch
The village of Frongoch is located in Gwynedd, Wales. It lies close to the market town of Bala, on the A4212 road in north Wales.It was the home of the Frongoch internment camp, used to hold German prisoners-of-war during First World War, and then Irish Republican prisoners from the 1916...

 in Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 where he came into contact with other notable revolutionary leaders such as Michael Collins
Michael Collins (Irish leader)
Michael "Mick" Collins was an Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently, he was both Chairman of the...


Boland was released after a general amnesty in December 1916, however, he remained involved in revolutionary circles. He was imprisoned in Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

 in 1918 at a time when a number of his colleagues secured their release by winning seats in the 1918 general election.

Boland remained involved with the IRB during the War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

 and was opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty
Anglo-Irish Treaty
The Anglo-Irish Treaty , officially called the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty Between Great Britain and Ireland, was a treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and representatives of the secessionist Irish Republic that concluded the Irish War of...

 of 1921.


Following the end of the Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....

, during which his brother Harry
Harry Boland
Harry Boland was an Irish Republican politician and member of the First Dáil.-Early life:Boland was born in Phibsboro, Dublin on 27 April 1887. He was active in GAA circles in early life, and ultimately joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood...

 was killed, Boland helped to build up Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 as the main Republican
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 party. While imprisoned he secured election to Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 for Roscommon
Roscommon (Dáil Éireann constituency)
Roscommon was a parliamentary constituency represented in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament or Oireachtas from 1923 to 1969 and from 1981 to 1992...

 at the 1923 general election
Irish general election, 1923
The Irish general election of 1923 was held on 27 August 1923. The newly elected members of the 4th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 19 September when the new President of the Executive Council and Executive Council of the Irish Free State were appointed. The election was held just after the end...

, however, in keeping with the Sinn Féin abstention policy he refused to take his seat. Upon his release Boland became secretary of the party.

By 1926 some TDs had become disillusioned with the policy of abstention that Sinn Féin had espoused. Party leader Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 proposed that the party abandon this policy and take their seats in the Dáil if changes were made to the oath of allegiance to the British monarch. His proposal was defeated and de Valera and his supporters, including Boland, left Sinn Féin. Shortly after this split a new party emerged called Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

, with de Valera acting as leader and the other disillusioned Republican TDs joining. The new party also had an abstentionist policy, however, in 1927 a new law forced Fianna Fáil TDs to take the oath of allegiance and take their seats in the Dáil. A general election shortly after saw Fianna Fáil come within four seats of the ruling Cumann na nGaedheal party. The latter formed a coalition of sorts with the Farmers' Party
Farmers' Party (Ireland)
The Farmers' Party or Farmers' Union was an agrarian political party in the Irish Free State between 1922 and 1932. It was concerned almost exclusively with the interests of the agricultural community, and never sought to widen its scope beyond the countryside.The party won seven seats in Dáil...

 and returned to government.

In cabinet

Following the 1932 general election
Irish general election, 1932
The Irish general election of 1932 was held on 16 February 1932, just over two weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 29 January. The newly elected 153 members of the 7th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 9 March 1932 when the new President of the Executive Council and Executive Council of...

 Fianna Fáil formed a new government. Boland was appointed chief whip
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach
The Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, officially styled as the Minister of State at the Departments of the Taoiseach and Defence with special responsibility as Government Chief Whip, is the Chief Whip of the Government of Ireland and is the most senior Minister of State...

, a position which allowed him attend cabinet meetings but not vote at them.

Fianna Fáil remained in power with an increased mandate following the 1933 general election
Irish general election, 1933
The Irish general election of 1933 was held on 24 January 1933. The newly elected members of the 8th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 8 February when the new President of the Executive Council and Executive Council of the Irish Free State were appointed....

 and Boland was promoted to the position of Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Ireland)
The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was a senior post in the government of the Irish Free State and the Republic of Ireland from 1924 to 1984, when the post and the department was abolished....

. In spite of being the minister in charge of the postal service Boland did not own a telephone until some time later. During his tenure the postal service made considerable progress. It was also during this time that the Post Office
An Post
An Post is the State-owned provider of postal services in the Republic of Ireland. An Post provides a universal postal service to all parts of the country as a member of the Universal Postal Union...

 became a paying concern. A cabinet reshuffle in 1936 saw Boland become Minister for Lands, before later taking on responsibility for Fisheries.

The outbreak of the Emergency
The Emergency
The Emergency was an official euphemism used by the Irish Government during the 1940s to refer to its position during World War II. The state was officially neutral during World War II, but declared an official state of emergency on 2 September 1939, and enacted the Emergency Powers Act the...

 in 1939 resulted in a number of new cabinet appointments and Boland became Minister for Justice. He took over at a time when the IRA
Irish Republican Army (1922–1969)
The original Irish Republican Army fought a guerrilla war against British rule in Ireland in the Irish War of Independence 1919–1921. Following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty on 6 December 1921, the IRA in the 26 counties that were to become the Irish Free State split between supporters and...

 were enjoying a resurgence and Boland was charged with the task of crushing the organisation. Although Boland had been a member of the Old IRA
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

, he had little sympathy and took powers to order the internment of hundreds of IRA members before introducing military courts and special criminal courts.

In 1940 a number of imprisoned IRA members went on hunger strike, however, Boland refused to grant their release. Two of the men eventually died, one of whom was the nephew of one of Boland's Fianna Fáil colleagues. These deaths sparked reprisals by the IRA on the Garda Síochána
Garda Síochána
, more commonly referred to as the Gardaí , is the police force of Ireland. The service is headed by the Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are located in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.- Terminology :...

. Boland subsequently introduced tougher measures by setting up a military court with the death penalty with no provision for appeal except for a review by the government. In all twelve men were found guilty with six of them facing death and the remaining six having their sentences changed to imprisonment.

During the Emergency, Boland was also responsible for the detention of several foreign agents in pursuit of Ireland's strict policy of neutrality.

Following Fianna Fáil's loss of power after the 1948 general election
Irish general election, 1948
The Irish general election of 1948 was held on 4 February 1948. The 147 newly elected members of the 13th Dáil assembled on 18 February when the First Inter-Party government in the history of the Irish state was appointed....

 Boland became spokesperson on Justice and was reappointed Minister for Justice when the party returned to government in 1951.

Later years

Boland did not seek ministerial office in 1957 when Fianna Fáil returned to power after its defeat in 1954. Family continuity was retained when his son, Kevin
Kevin Boland
Kevin Boland , was a senior Irish politician. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1957 as a Fianna Fáil TD. He served as Minister for Defence , Minister for Social Welfare and Minister for Local Government...

, was instead appointed to the cabinet as Minister for Defence
Minister for Defence (Ireland)
The Minister for Defence is the senior minister at the Department of Defence in the Government of Ireland. Under new arrangements this department is being merged with the Department of Justice over which Mr. Shatter will also preside....


At the 1961 general election
Irish general election, 1961
The Irish general election of 1961 was held on 4 October 1961, just over three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 8 September. The newly elected members of the 17th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 11 October when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.The general election took...

, Boland faced electoral defeat for the first time in fourteen general election campaigns. In spite of losing his Dáil seat he subsequently secured elected to Seanad Éireann
Seanad Éireann
Seanad Éireann is the upper house of the Oireachtas , which also comprises the President of Ireland and Dáil Éireann . It is commonly called the Seanad or Senate and its members Senators or Seanadóirí . Unlike Dáil Éireann, it is not directly elected but consists of a mixture of members chosen by...

. Four years later in 1965 he returned to the Seanad, this time as a nominee by the Taoiseach
Nominated by the Taoiseach
The composition of Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Oireachtas of Ireland, is defined in outline by Article 18 of the Constitution of Ireland, which provides for 11 appointees that are nominated by the Taoiseach...

 Seán Lemass
Seán Lemass
Seán Francis Lemass was one of the most prominent Irish politicians of the 20th century. He served as Taoiseach from 1959 until 1966....


In 1970 the outbreak of the Arms Crisis
Arms Crisis
The Arms Crisis or Arms Trial was a political scandal in the Republic of Ireland in 1970, when two cabinet ministers — Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney — were sacked for allegedly attempting to illegally import arms for the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.-Background:The...

 saw Boland's son resign as minister and as secretary of Fianna Fáil in protest at the government's policy on Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 and in response to the sackings of Charles Haughey
Charles Haughey
Charles James "Charlie" Haughey was Taoiseach of Ireland, serving three terms in office . He was also the fourth leader of Fianna Fáil...

 and Neil Blaney
Neil Blaney
Neil Terence Columba Blaney was a senior Irish politician. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1948 as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála representing Donegal East. Blaney served as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs , Minister for Local Government and Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries...

 from the cabinet. Boland, in a similar protest, resigned as a vice-president and as a trustee of Fianna Fáil, although he remained a member of the party. He also articulated his loss of confidence in the leadership of Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 Jack Lynch
Jack Lynch
John Mary "Jack" Lynch was the Taoiseach of Ireland, serving two terms in office; from 1966 to 1973 and 1977 to 1979....



Gerald Boland died in Dublin at the age of 87 on 5 January 1973. His wife, Annie Boland, predeceased him in 1970. He was survived by his three daughters, Eileen, Máire and Nuala, and four sons, Kevin, Enda, Harry and Ciarán.
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