George Boal – An Appreciation

George Boal at the offical renaming of the Calhame Roundabout, Mountain Top, Letterkenny to the George Boal Roundabout. Photo Clive Wasson


Today, we at Highland Radio mourn George Boal, who died last night after an illness. He was 85.

The owner of the Pinehill Industrial Estate, where our studios and offices are based, George was our landlord, but he was so much more. He was like a father figure to everyone in the building, emphasised by the fact that irrespective of age, he called all male staff members ’my son’!

Everyone was greeted with the same enthusiasm and respect, whether they were a member of the Board of Directors, or a part time student answering the phones.

As his health failed, we didn’t see him as much as we used to but he had been a regular visitor, checking that everything was OK, and if it wasn’t, he, Ricky or Gavin were over in the van with the tool box out and the sleeves rolled up.

George, and indeed the whole Boal family, gave a new meaning to the phrase ‘hands on’.

Very often, to say someone ‘built’ something actually means they showed their plans to a builder and then got out of the way while the builder gets to work.

George Boal built his house, and much of the Pinehill Industrial Estate on the Mountain Top in Letterkenny with his own hands, very often with his wife Betty mixing the cement. After their marriage in 1962, they lived in a caravan on an exposed site on the Mountain Top, as George worked as a roofer. They built their own house, and then bought the adjoining five acres for €45, and went into the Pre-Cast Concrete business.

Now the area is at the centre of a bustling area with houses and a very busy shop and petrol station. 40 years ago, as George was starting off, it was a bog in the middle of nowhere. The vision to see what could be done was one which not many people shared, and a lot were sceptical to say the least, particularly as George was known as a hard drinking man. However, in the early 1980s, with the support of Betty and the family, George became sober and remained so to the end.

As he was in all aspects of his life, he was open and frank when he discussed that part of his past. What didn’t speak as much about was the extent to which he helped others, and one of George’s legacies is the fact that many people are sober today because of the help they received from him

George’s contribution to building the Mountain Top into what it has become was honoured in 2021 when the Calhame Roundabout became the George Boal Roundabout.

George Boal with his family at the offiical renaming of the Calhame Roundabout, Mountain Top, Letterkenny to the George Boal Roundabout. Photo Clive Wasson


In 2004, George Boal was named Business Person of the Year by Letterkenny Chamber, an accolade that was well deserved and probably long overdue.

Afterwards, with his former employee Cllr Ciaran  Brogan, George came in to the Highland Radio studios for a conversation with Shaun Doherty (now Fr Shaun). As you would expect, George was open and honest, discussing his demons as well as his inspirations.

As he always did, he acknowledged his debt to Betty, his rock for so many years, and he recounted as only he could, the story of how Pinehill Industrial Estate came to be.  At one point, he recalls how he was faced with a choice with money in his pocket. Turn one way, and start building, or turn the other way and go to the pub.

He started building, and it is for the inner strength it took to make that decision that George Boal will be remembered.

To Betty, Drew, Ricky, Gavin and all who loved George all of us at Highland Radio send our deepest condolences.

Rest in Peace George x


You can listen to George’s 2004 interview with Shaun Doherty here –