Price, James (1831–95), civil engineer, was born 18 January 1831 in Monkstown, Co. Dublin, second son of James Price of Newtown Park, Monkstown. Price entered TCD on 15 January 1847, eventually earning a diploma in civil engineering (1850) and a BA (1851). After working for a year as a general assistant on Griffith's valuation, he was appointed resident engineer in charge of surveying the Banbridge Junction railway line (1855–7), ultimately overseeing its construction (1858–9); in the interim he also worked on Wicklow harbour improvements (1857–8). He gained a reputation as a first-rate railway engineer; his services were in demand, and he worked as resident engineer on the Cootehill & Ballybay (1859–60) and Dublin & Belfast Junction (1860–62) railway lines before being appointed engineer-in-chief of the Midland Great Western Railway Company (October 1862–March 1878). In this capacity, he was responsible for the company's bridges and railroads and for the Royal Canal, but his most famous work during this period was at the Spencer docks, Dublin, where he invented a special type of floating swing-bridge. For this innovation he was awarded an MAI from TCD and 500 guineas (£525) from the railway directors (April 1873). Unfortunately, his favourable relationship with the directors soon came to an end when (1876) he disagreed with the final figures included in their annual report: he accused them of adding data relating to steel rails, allegedly in storage, that he insisted had already been used. In the end, Price resigned citing ill health (March 1878), but evidently there was no ill will, and he was given a severance payment of £2,100 for his hard work.
Price's reputation remained intact, and he continued to work as a consultant in all areas of engineering until his death. His varied expertise was well known; he had been one of three engineers chosen by Dublin corporation to report jointly on the purification of the River Liffey (September 1874). From 1877 to 1895 he worked on the Galway dock works, the drainage of Lough Erne, and the Cork & Macroom railway line, and was engaged by the Waterford & Limerick and several other railway companies on various parliamentary cases; he also designed the Inishmore viaduct (built 1891–1900). Price was a long-time advocate of light railways, and was appointed by the government as a commissioner to inquire and report on various light railway schemes in the north and north-west of Ireland. In 1887 he was acting professor of engineering at TCD; he applied for the permanent chair, but it went to Thomas A. Alexander (qv). In the following year, he gave evidence before a government commission on the Barrow drainage, representing the interests of the riparian owners of the Lower Barrow area and of the Barrow Navigation Company (1888).
Price was elected to the ICEI in 1861 and to the Institution of Civil Engineers in London on 1 March 1870; he served as president of the former (1894–5). A member of the general synod of the Church of Ireland, he was a large-hearted, sympathetic man, who was renowned for the time and energy he gave to charitable works, and was well respected for his benevolence. Professionally, he was known for his expert abilities, indomitable perseverance, and exceptional ingenuity: his designs were remarkable for their originality and he was the first person to introduce to Ireland the bascule bridge, in lieu of the traditional drawbridge, as exemplified by the bridge over the River Shannon at Drumsna, Co. Leitrim. Up to a week before his death, Price was an active and healthy man, but a bad case of influenza turned into pneumonia, and he died 4 April 1895 at his residence in Greystones, Co. Wicklow.
Price married (1855) Frances A. Peebles, daughter of Dr John Peebles of Dublin. They had two daughters and nine sons, one of whom was Alfred Dickinson Price (b. 1857), who graduated BA and MAI from TCD and was engineering inspector to the Local Government Board.