Power, Patrick (1862–1951), priest, historian, toponymist, and archaeologist, was born 8 March 1862 at Callaghane, Ballygunner, Co. Waterford, several kilometres from Waterford city. Educated at Ballygunner national school and the Catholic University School, Waterford city, he studied for the catholic priesthood at St John's college, Waterford. Ordained in 1885, he worked for three years at a mission attached to St Bride's church, Liverpool. Threatened with tuberculosis, he was sent to Australia where he spent seven years in the rural diocese of Wilcannia, New South Wales, serving successively as rector at Cobar, Bourke, and Wilcannia. His coming into contact with aborigines seems to have kindled his interest in archaeology. Returning to Waterford in 1895, he was chaplain to the Little Sisters of the Poor, and was assigned for three years as curate at Waterford cathedral. He subsequently served as diocesan inspector of schools, chaplain to both the De La Salle training college and the Good Shepherd convent, and (from 1908) curate at Portlaw, and was made a canon of the diocese of Waterford and Lismore. He wrote a highly popular Manual of religious instruction (c.1900), which ran to thirty editions, and was used extensively in Ireland for some twenty years, and for several decades longer in Australia. From his student years he had published articles on local history in Waterford newspapers; what began as a hobby or parergon burgeoned into a serious scholarly passion. Prominent in the Waterford and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society, he edited the society's journal for nineteen volumes (1896–1915), comprising most of its history. His most important work, The place-names of Decies, was serialised in the journal over many years before being published in book form in 1907. In researching the local toponymy, Power visited by bicycle nearly every one of the thousands of locales mentioned in the book, talking with local people, and examining grave inscriptions and antiquities.
Power lectured on celtic archaeology in St Patrick's college, Maynooth (1910–31), and succeeded Sir Bertram Windle (qv) as professor of archaeology in University College Cork (UCC) (1915–32). He continued to publish prolifically on toponymy, Waterford history and antiquities (both ecclesiastical and general), and Irish archaeology. His Parochial history of Waterford and Lismore during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (1912) was a reprint of a series of newspaper articles; a quarter-century later he revisited the subject, recasting and enlarging his material as Waterford and Lismore: a compendious history of the united dioceses (1937). Beside being a comprehensive ecclesiastical history, the work is a valuable repository of social, topographical, and architectural history. He also wrote A short history of County Waterford (1933), and historical guides to several parishes. He translated from manuscripts in Irish the lives of two Waterford saints, Declan of Ardmore (qv) and Carthach (Mo-Chuta) of Lismore (qv), which were published alongside the Irish texts, with his introduction and notes, by the Irish Texts Society (1914). Another translation from the Irish was Crichad an Chaoilli, being the topography of ancient Fermoy (1932). He wrote two general archaeological manuals, Prehistoric Ireland (1922) and Early Christian Ireland (1925). He edited, introduced, and annotated the letters of John Brenan (qv) of Waterford and Cashel as A bishop of the penal times (1932). Among his other titles are a monograph on the Comeragh poet Donnchadh Mac Conmara (qv) (1911), Place-names and antiquities of south-east Cork (1917–18), and Aran of the saints: a brief introduction to the island's antiquities (1935).
Power was a frequent contributor to learned journals, such as Studies, the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, and the journals of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (RSAI) and the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (of which he was an honorary life member); many such contributions were reprinted as pamphlets, as were some of his numerous articles in newspapers, especially the Waterford News, on the minutiae of local history. Awarded a Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) degree by the National University of Ireland (NUI) in 1926, he was a member of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), and a fellow of the RSAI. Gentle and unworldly, with an old-world courtesy, Power was tirelessly devoted to his research, his only other recreation being an interest in horticulture. He had a reputation as an engrossing lecturer and conversationalist, and for his generosity to fellow scholars and enthusiasts. At the request of Waterford county council, he devoted his last years to an enlarged and revised edition of his masterwork, The place-names of Decies, assisted by a friend in the last revision after expending his eyesight on the labour; the edition was published posthumously in 1952. After his retirement from UCC he resided for some time in Youghal, Co. Cork, before moving to a bungalow on John's Hill, Waterford city, where he died on 16 October 1951; he was buried in the historic St Otteran's cemetery, Ballynaneashagh, Co. Waterford, in which he had expressed his wish to be interred among the district's poor.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).