Jim Boland was born in Manchester on 6 October 1856.
In 1867, following an abortive uprising in Ireland, Colonel Thomas J. Kelly – the leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) – having escaped from prison in Ireland, was rearrested in Manchester. Fellow IRB organiser Timothy Deasy was also arrested.
According to family stories, Col. Kelly was a first cousin of Eliza Kelly, Jim’s mother. The Boland family is thought to have been involved in the liberation of Kelly and Deasy from the prison van on 18 September 1867. The incident that led to the arrest and execution of the three men who became known as the Manchester Martyrs.
Jim, as an 10-year-old, was, according to family lore, involved in some way in the liberation – most likely as a scout alongside 17-year-old James Stritch. Stritch may have known the family from Ireland – he was from Ballinaheglish, close to Fuerty (where Jim’s father was born), in Roscommon.
According to Kevin Boland, Jim’s grandson, in the unpublished “James Boland 1857-1895 A Nationalist of the Advanced School”, Stritch worked with Jim’s father Pat laying the Manchester Tramway. Whatever happened in September 1867, Stritch had a lifelong association with the Boland family – he swore Jim’s sons Gerald and Harry into the IRB in 1904 and worked with Harry to train the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and was interned in Frongoch with Gerald after the 1916 Rising.
More to come!