Boland, James (‘Jim’) (1856–95), IRB and GAA member, was born 6 October 1856 in Manchester, son of Patrick Boland, labourer, originally from Fuerty, Co. Roscommon, and Eliza Boland (née Kelly), from Mount Bellew, Co. Galway, a first cousin of the Fenian Thomas J. Kelly (qv). Growing up in Manchester, Boland worked initially as a labourer on the Manchester tramways and then as a foreman for a Liverpool road-contracting firm. In the latter capacity, during 1880 he was made overseer of Dublin corporation's paving department and moved to 9 Phibsborough Road, Glasnevin. In 1882 he was awarded a medal by the Royal Humane Society for rescuing a man from drowning in the Liffey. Boland had been a member of the IRB since the mid 1870s; a warrant was issued for his arrest in January 1883, owing to his close association with Joseph Brady (qv), a corporation paviour and ‘Invincible’, and his reputed involvement in an attack on a land agent's house in Cool, Queen's Co. (Laois). To escape arrest, he fled to New York together with his younger brother, John (‘Jack’). The latter then became an active member of Clan na Gael.
Jim does not appear to have returned to Ireland until late 1885, though he was reputedly a member of an IRB subcommittee formed in the summer of 1883 to plan the formation of the GAA (founded in October 1884). During the late 1880s he played a significant role in establishing the GAA in Dublin, and in February 1890 helped arrange a financial deal to make Clonturk Park (later renamed ‘Croke Park’) the official playing ground for all GAA finals. He also agitated for the amnesty of P.W. Nally (qv), established a GAA club in Dublin in Nally's honour, and worked secretly as an arms agent. He offered support to C. S. Parnell (qv) during the split in the Irish party in 1890–91, once Parnell began supporting the amnesty agitation. During 1892–3 he helped to organise several amnesty demonstrations in Dublin, and served as chairman of the Dublin GAA. During a Parnellite attempt to take over United Ireland by force (10 December 1890) he was concussed by having a chair smashed over his head, reputedly while protecting Parnell from a blow. As a result he suffered from internal bleeding in the head throughout the early 1890s, and died 11 March 1895 after spending nearly six months in the Mater Hospital, Dublin, in a state of complete delirium. Despite rumours (probably false) that either he or his brother in New York (who died later the same year) was a British agent provocateur, Dublin corporation lowered their flag to half mast during his funeral, which was attended by 1,500 people, including several Parnellite MPs.
Boland married (21 October 1882) Catherine Woods (c.1861–1932), an Irishwoman whom he first met in Manchester. After his death, the Parnellite MP William Field (qv) and the GAA collected funds to support his widow, who thereafter opened a tobacconist's shop, while MP and former Fenian Patrick O'Brien (qv) provided for the education of his five children, Gerry (qv), Harry (qv), Edmund, Nelly, and Kathleen.