Boland, Harry (1925–2013), businessman, was born Henry Boland on 21 September 1925 in the family home at Brian Road in Marino, Dublin, the fifth child of four sons and three daughters of Gerald Boland (qv), politician, and his wife Anne (née Keating). Born into Ireland's post-revolutionary elite, he was steeped in family accounts of the 1916–23 period. In his early childhood the family moved to Clontarf, Dublin, and he attended St Joseph's Secondary CBS in Fairview. He joined the LDF as a teenager. An ardent proponent of the Irish language, he signed his name Annraoi Ó Beólláin, though he was generally known by his English name.
His St Joseph's classmates included future national politicians Charles Haughey (qv) and George Colley (qv). In school he was much closer to Colley, as they were both from leading Fianna Fáil families whereas Haughey had a Fine Gael background. On their first day together in UCD in 1943, Boland told Haughey he was doing commerce, as his brother Enda Boland had promised him a position in his accounting practice. Haughey inquired as to whether there would also be a place for him, discovered there was and so enrolled for commerce. They became close and it was Boland who introduced Haughey to his future wife, Maureen Lemass, who was in their class. On graduating B.Comm. in 1946, he and Haughey joined Enda Boland's firm Boland, Burke & Co. as articled clerks.
By then Boland had become a basketball enthusiast under the influence of Joe Horan, a UCD contemporary central to the sport's development in Ireland outside the army. Boland helped found the UCD basketball club in 1946 and later the St Joseph's basketball club in Fairview. In 1948 he gained selection for the Irish basketball squad that participated in that year's Summer Olympics held in London. He was the only civilian. In a country with one dedicated basketball court, the players could engage in only the most rudimentary preparations and lacked the use of a regulation basketball and a full grasp of the recently revised rules. They were thoroughly outclassed at the Olympics, though he enjoyed the experience, partly because it was his first trip abroad.
Once Boland passed his final accounting exams at the second attempt in 1950, he and Haughey established their own practice, Haughey Boland, soon afterwards at 13 Dame Street, Dublin. They struggled for many years with Boland later admitting they should have got experience with a bigger firm first. Boland worked hard while Haughey excelled at drumming up business, despite tending to arrive later in the morning. In October 1952 Boland married Norah Tracey of Philipsburgh Avenue, Fairview. They settled in Sutton, Co. Dublin, and had two sons and a daughter.
Haughey Boland survived off its political links. An active member of the Fianna Fáil cumann in Fairview, Boland had recruited Haughey for the party in 1948. Soon after Boland turned down the position of cumann secretary and Haughey took it on instead, starting his rise up the party ranks. Although Boland welcomed his friend's progress for showing that Fianna Fáil was open to talent, other members of his family, most significantly his brother Kevin Boland (qv), were less pleased. The Bolands were disappointed by Harry's unwillingness to pursue a political career, especially since it opened the door for Haughey, who they saw as an unprincipled upstart.
From the late 1940s to the mid 1950s, Boland worked closely with Haughey and George Colley in Fairview and in adjoining parts of north Dublin revitalising a Fianna Fáil organisation in need of young blood. In the 1957 general election he canvassed for George Colley's father, Harry Colley (qv), who, however, lost his seat to Haughey. When Boland subsequently criticised one cumann for failing to canvass properly, a row erupted, culminating in his withdrawal from political activism. He never liked politics, having become involved in Fianna Fáil mainly to please his father. His last noteworthy political intervention occurred in 1961 when he persuaded George Colley to run for the dáil in Haughey's constituency, sparking a bitter rivalry between his two friends.
By then Boland was more interested in music. A regular participant in feis ceoil events, he sang and played the viola and piano, also studying at the RIAM. He played basketball into the late 1950s, both for the St Joseph's club and for Ireland, appearing in Ireland's first formal basketball international against Scotland in 1952. Subsequently active in the administration of Irish basketball, he served as president of the Amateur Basketball Association of Ireland (1965–8).
Boland became Haughey Boland's senior partner when Haughey took what turned out to be a permanent leave of absence upon being appointed minister for justice in 1961. Thereafter Haughey's growing array of business associates, those in property development especially, thought it worthwhile to give work to Haughey Boland, which moved location to Amiens Street in the early 1960s. The firm grew modestly and developed an expertise in tax advice, mainly through the efforts of James 'Des' Traynor (qv). Although the government awarded it a plum semi-state audit (the Irish Shipping Company) in 1963, this drew pointed comments and Haughey Boland did not subsequently benefit to any significant extent from state work.
Having continued to help Fianna Fáil's fundraising, in late 1966 Boland became secretary and treasurer of Taca, a newly established fundraising entity devised by Haughey that targeted wealthy donors for £100 annual subscriptions. The members, many of who were Haughey Boland clients, enjoyed access to government ministers at functions from which the media was excluded. Taca's activities provoked such controversy that Fianna Fáil cut the annual subscription to £5 in December 1968. Deluged with letters, all asking for favours, from those who then paid the reduced subscription, Boland quickly resigned from Taca.
A strong republican, he was disgusted by the Fianna Fáil government's failure to intervene in Northern Ireland at the outset of the 'Troubles' in 1969 and by its duplicitous attempts to clear itself from conniving at arms smuggling in 1970. He sympathised with the defendants at the ensuing 'arms trial', befriending two of them, Captain James Kelly (qv) and the IRA leader John Kelly (qv) (1936–2007). In 1971 he became treasurer of a relief fund set up for the families of jailed republicans in Northern Ireland. Disappointed by Haughey's willingness to remain in Fianna Fáil, he was involved in the unsuccessful Aontacht Éireann party set up by his brother Kevin Boland in 1971.
During the 1970s Haughey Boland was part of a murky financial nexus orchestrated by Traynor who had left the firm to become managing director of the Guinness & Mahon Bank (Ireland). Boland was tangentially involved in Traynor's use of illegal offshore accounts for tax evasion purposes. Haughey Boland referred its clients to Guinness & Mahon for tax advice, but could plausibly deny awareness of illegality. Traynor also opened a joint Guinness & Mahon resident account in the name of Boland and Haughey (1981–4), seemingly using Boland's name to deflect attention within Guinness & Mahon from Haughey's growing indebtedness to the bank. The tribunal investigating payments to politicians later accepted that Boland had neither had knowledge of, nor benefited from, this account.
Boland allowed that he had no great flair for accounting while asserting he was good at recruitment. This enabled him to weather the shock of Traynor's departure in 1969 and to meet his clients' growing demands for more than just auditing work. Continuing as senior partner, he largely relied on others to run and develop the firm. By 1977 Haughey Boland had eight partners and 140 staff, and was established as one of Ireland's top ten accounting firms, though its somewhat disreputable reputation deterred the more prestigious companies. Its merger with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in 1986 created Ireland's fourth largest accounting firm. Boland became chairman and shortly before retiring concluded negotiations that led to a further merger in 1990 with Touche Ross.
To make amends for failing to attend Boland's retirement party, Haughey appointed him chairman of the National Concert Hall (1991–6). He died suddenly on 18 December 2013 in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, and was buried in St Fintan's Cemetery, Sutton.