Power, Sir John (1771–1855), 1st baronet, distiller, was born in Dublin, son of James Power, proprietor of the New Sun Inn, 109 Thomas St., Dublin, and founder of a distillery at nearby John's St. West (1791), later known as the John's Lane distillery. No information on his mother is available. From an early age John joined his father, James, in the operation of the distillery and on the latter's death (1817) succeeded him as head of the distillery.
John Power married (1799) Mary (d. 1834), eldest daughter of Thomas Brenan of Co. Wexford, a wealthy merchant who had been made a freeman of Enniscorthy (1760), as had his four brothers, sons of John Brenan. John Power had one son, James (see below), and seven daughters – Mary (died unmarried), Catherine (married Sir Nicholas Fitz-Simon, later MP for King's Co. and inspector general of prisons), Margaret (married Francis-Augustus Codd), Annette (married Thomas S. Coppinger of Middleton, Co. Cork), Elizabeth (married John Hyacinth Talbot), Emily, and Ellen (married Joseph Barry of Middleton, Co. Cork).
John Power took his 21-year-old son, James, into partnership (1821) and thereafter the distillery traded as John Power & Son. During the 1820s and 1830s the firm expanded and prospered, and its reputation for producing good whiskey spread far and wide. Much of the development and expansion of the firm in those early years was due to the energy and enterprise of John Power. The firm was considered one of the four great Dublin whiskey distilleries of the nineteenth century, the others being John Jameson & Son, Wm Jameson & Co., and George Roe & Co.
Power had a distinguished record in public life. He served in the administration of the city of Dublin over many years as alderman, DL, and magistrate. He also served as commissioner of wide streets, as guardian (ex officio) of the South Dublin poor law union, and on a number of other committees during his terms of office. On 23 August 1841, towards the end of the administration of the prime minister, Lord Melbourne (qv), Power was created a baronet. He was a governor of the Coombe Lying-in Hospital and of the Dublin Ophthalmic Infirmary (1849).
Power was also a supporter, friend, and confidant of Daniel O'Connell (qv), both having served on Dublin corporation at the same time. He was one of the seven individuals, described by the Dublin Evening Post (31 Mar. 1829) as ‘of the very first mercantile rank’, who were elected treasurers of the proposed O'Connell testimonial fund. He was described in the correspondence of O'Connell as ‘my most respected friend John Power’. On 23 September 1854 he laid the foundation stone of the O'Connell monument in Glasnevin cemetery.
In 1833 John Power purchased an estate in Co. Wexford from Lord Carew and built a residence at Edermine near Enniscorthy, and later bought the Sampton estate in the same county from Lord Mountnorris (1838). The Power family had a long association with Enniscorthy, dividing their time between their estates there and the distillery in Dublin. The nearby village of Oylegate was built by the Power family for workers on their estate, some of whom also worked in the distillery in Dublin during the winter months. The family's Dublin residences were 20 Harcourt St. and Roebuck House.
Sir John Power was a well-known and popular figure in Dublin. He was considered an upright and honourable man of business, a good friend and generous benefactor of the poor and of the many charitable organisations with which he was associated, and a patriotic Irishman. He died 25 June 1855 in Roebuck House, Dublin, aged 84, and was buried in the family vault in Dublin's pro-cathedral. He was succeeded by his only son, James, who was his partner in the John's Lane distillery for some thirty-four years.
Sir James Power (1800–77), 2nd baronet, distillery owner, landlord, and MP, was born 6 December 1800 in Dublin. He was educated at Rathfarnham College, and called to the Irish bar at King's Inns (1849). His father took him into partnership on 6 December 1821, his twenty-first birthday. James was three times MP for Co. Wexford (1835–7, 1841–7, 1865–8), as well as governor of the District Lunatic Asylum for the county. He served both Co. Wexford and the city of Dublin as DL and magistrate, and was sheriff for the former in 1851 and for the latter in 1859. In Dublin he was a member of the chamber of commerce (1869, 1871), vice-president of the chamber (1876), and also ex-officio guardian of the South Dublin poor law union. From the 1850s he was a member/arbitrator of the Ouzel Galley Society in Dublin, and a director and treasurer of the Patriotic Assurance Co. of Ireland. He was a director of the Bank of Ireland from 1849 until his death in 1877, becoming deputy governor (1868) and governor (1869). For many years from 1859 he was a director of the Dublin, Wicklow & Wexford Railway Co., serving as deputy chairman (1869, 1871, 1875), and as chairman (1876). He was on the council (1866, 1868) of the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland (instituted in 1841). He was also a member of the Amateur Musical Society's general committee (1865, 1866, 1868).
Sir James Power had a long and distinguished career both in business and public life. He devoted much of his attention to the distillery and to the many mercantile bodies of which he was either a director or influential shareholder. Under his management, the firm of John Power & Son continued to develop and expand. The distillery, which covered six acres, incorporated the most up-to-date equipment, including the first steam engine to be erected in Ireland and also the first dynamo to supply electric current in Dublin. The workforce of nearly 300, some of whom came from his Co. Wexford estates, enjoyed excellent conditions of employment. In commercial life he had an untarnished reputation for public spirit, clear judgement, and practical approach to business. Genial, courteous, tolerant, and benevolent, he was a munificent contributor to his church and to catholic orphanages and schools, as well as to other charitable organisations with which he was associated. In politics he was a loyal supporter of the parliamentary actions of Daniel O'Connell and of liberal causes.
He was a member of the Stephen's Green Club and its sister club, the Reform in London. While in Dublin, he and his father resided at 20 Harcourt St. and at Roebuck House. Sir James moved (1868) from Harcourt St. to 27 Merrion Square, North, and divided his time between his Wexford estate at Edermine near Enniscorthy and the distillery in Dublin.
Sir James Power died 30 September 1877 in his country estate, Edermine, Co. Wexford, at the age of 76, having been ill for a number of months. His remains were brought to Dublin by train from Enniscorthy and his funeral was one of the largest seen in Dublin for many years. His coffin was borne through the streets of Dublin from the Harcourt St. railway station to the pro-cathedral in Marlborough St. for burial in the family vault. There is a commemorative tablet in the pro-cathedral, located immediately below a large stained-glass window, erected in his memory by his widow and sons.
He married (1843) Jane Anne Eliza, daughter and co-heiress of John Hyacinth Talbot, DL, MP, for New Ross, of Castle Talbot, Co. Wexford. They had three sons (see below) and four daughters – Mary Jane (married (1872) James P. Devereux of Rocklands, Co. Wexford), Gwendaline Anna Eliza (married (1870) Maj.-gen. Thaddeus Richard Ryan, RA, eldest son of John Ryan of Scarteen, Co. Limerick), Matilda Josephine (died unmarried), and Frances Mary Ursula (married (1873) Joseph Richard O'Reilly, JP, DL, of Castle Wilder, Co. Longford, Sans Souci, Booterstown, Co. Dublin, and 21 Rutland Square, Dublin). Sir James Power was succeeded as baronet by his eldest son, John Talbot Power (1845–1901), MP for Co. Wexford 1868–74, who also inherited Edermine and other estates in Co. Wexford. The distillery was left to his two younger sons, James Talbot Power (1851–1916), DL, and Thomas Talbot Power (1863–1930). They became fifth and sixth baronet respectively, John Talbot Power's son James Douglas Talbot Power (1884–1914) having succeeded him as fourth baronet. The fifth and sixth baronets married but left no issue, and the title became extinct.