Boland, Henry Patrick (1876–1956), civil servant, was born 10 May 1876 in Clonmel, the son of Michael Boland, master of Clonmel workhouse, and his wife, Elizabeth (née Quirke). In 1895 he entered the civil service as a second division clerk. Later he served in the Treasury Remembrancer's Office (1897–1902) and the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction before going to the Office of Public Works, where he served as private secretary to the chairman of the commissioners, Sir Robert Holmes. In 1915 he was transferred to the Ministry of Munitions in London as personal assistant to the director general. There he took a prominent part in building up the establishment branch of the ministry. At the end of the war Boland was appointed comptroller of county courts in the lord chancellor's office, and in 1920 he became a principal in the Treasury. Highly thought of, he was awarded an OBE in 1918 for his services during the war and in June 1921 was recommended to Sir James Craig (qv) for an appointment to a senior post in the Northern Ireland civil service, but to no avail.
Boland returned to Dublin in 1924 to replace Cornelius Gregg (qv) as assistant secretary and chief establishment officer in the Department of Finance, and took a leading part in the establishment of the Irish civil service. During his first year in the post it became clear that he was conservative to the core when he unsuccessfully opposed the introduction of permission for women to sit the examinations for entry into the administrative class of the service. A tireless promoter of economy and retrenchment, he incurred great hostility inside and outside the civil service: one curate told his congregation that ‘when we come into power, we will crucify H. P. Boland’.
As the first chief personnel officer in the civil service, Boland was the most important witness to give evidence to the Brennan commission of inquiry into the civil service (1933). In his memoirs León Ó Broin (qv) recalled that Boland invited him and some of the other new administrative officers to the Gresham Hotel for what was intended to be the first of a number of social meetings, when he advised them about how they should dress and recommended that they study the editorials in the London Times for literary style. He was one of the original members of the civil service commission and a member of the local appointments commission and the commission on vocational organisation. A formidable individual, Boland was instrumental in establishing early and cordial relations between the civil service and the Fianna Fáil government in 1932. When he retired in March 1937 he was succeeded by John Moynihan (qv). A great admirer of Charles Stewart Parnell (qv), he wore the ivy leaf on the anniversaries of Parnell's death and was the organising secretary of the Glasnevin cemetery Parnell memorial. Boland was greatly interested in music: he played an important part in setting up the short-lived civil service musical society and proposed funding for a national symphony orchestra.
Boland was married to Charlotte Nolan, with whom he had four sons, one of whom was F. H. Boland (qv). His second wife was the singer Agnes O’Kelly. He died 19 February 1956 at his home, 3 Merton Road, Rathmines, Dublin.