Price, Ivon Henry (1866–1931), policeman and army intelligence officer, was born 18 March 1866 in Lucan, Co. Dublin, the son of James Price, a chartered engineer, and his wife Fanny (née Peebles); the family were Church of Ireland. He was educated at St Columba's College, Whitechurch, Dublin, and Trinity College Dublin, where he studied law, graduating in 1890. In 1893 he married Margaret Emily Kinahan of Dundrum, Co. Dublin; of their eight children, seven survived him. Price joined the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), being appointed a district inspector (3rd class) in October 1891. He served in the crime branch special in RIC headquarters (1903–8), giving him familiarity with a range of separatist organisations throughout and beyond Ireland.
On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Price was seconded to the army's Irish command as director of military intelligence with the rank of major. He was not a spy master – the Castle had no spies worthy of the name in the period – but rather an experienced policeman with considerable knowledge of the advanced nationalist demi-monde. His job was to liaise between the two Irish police forces, the civil administration in Dublin Castle, and the military authorities, who had enormous powers thrust upon them by the omnibus Defence of the Realm Act. The war affected him directly: his second son, Captain Ernest Price of the Royal Irish Regiment, was killed in France just weeks before the 1916 rising.
On Easter Monday morning, 24 April 1916, Price was conferring with officials in Dublin Castle on a proposed roundup of separatist suspects when shots were heard outside. A group of Irish Citizen Army volunteers killed an unarmed policeman guarding the gates to the upper Castle yard and took prisoner several soldiers in the guardroom. Price rushed downstairs, opened fire with his revolver, summoned other troops, and led a successful defence of the Castle after the rebels inexplicably withdrew to nearby buildings. For his initiative and leadership he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, and in January 1917 was promoted to lieutenant-colonel.
At the Hardinge commission enquiring into the causes of the rebellion, Price's evidence reflected the advice that he had repeatedly given since 1914 that firm action needed to be taken against the emerging separatist threat. His view was that his superiors balked at such action out of deference to the nationalist political leadership. Unlike other witnesses, however, he also pointed out that the army's own overwhelming priority was to enlist Irishmen and that the military authorities disliked any duties that might damage recruiting.
Price was one of very few public servants who emerged from the 1916 rising with his official reputation enhanced. The nationalist press attacked him, in part because he was assumed to have played a role in advising on who amongst the rebel leadership should be executed. Eoin MacNeill (qv) also accused Price of attempting to trick him into implicating the nationalist MPs John Dillon (qv) and Joseph Devlin (qv) in the planning of the rising.
Price's star was in the ascendant in May 1916. However, like other officials who consistently urged a firm line, he found that the new chief secretary for Ireland, Henry Edward Duke (qv), inclined to dither. Price did make significant interventions on two occasions, in November 1917 and April 1918, pressing for determined measures on the basis of limited and inaccurate intelligence furnished by naval intelligence in London that another insurrection was imminent. On each occasion the Castle authorities listened to him; the repressive action which followed was found, embarrassingly, to be quite unjustified by the evidence uncovered.
In February 1919 Price returned to his RIC duties, as county inspector for Cavan and Fermanagh, counties that proved far more peaceable during the Irish revolution than might have been predicted given their histories and sectarian politics. Promoted to assistant inspector general in October 1920, he returned to Dublin. He rather faded from the picture as the separatist campaign intensified and the RIC leadership was sidelined in official counsels. But he feared he was a marked man: his son Norman described how early in 1922 Price left Dublin very suddenly after learning of an assassination plot, accepting advice to 'leave his hat behind the door' when quitting his office one lunchtime. He retired officially in June 1922. He moved to Devon where he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1925 from which he never recovered, and died on 10 November 1931 at his home in Farnborough, Hampshire. His net estate was £282.12s.11d. His son Norman (1907–88) returned to Ireland as a student of TCD, captaining the athletics club in 1928–9. Norman later became provincial commissioner of Northern Rhodesia before, in an ironic twist, briefly acting as an intelligence adviser to Ian Smith's breakaway white separatist Rhodesian government in 1964–5.