Price, Liam (1891–1967), district justice and antiquary, was born 23 February 1891 and christened William George (‘Willie’), the only surviving son of George Price (d. 1915), QC, of 84 Lower Leeson St., Dublin, prominent in the legal profession as registrar of the chancery division of the law courts, and his second wife, Kate, daughter of Paul Askin, JP. He had one sister, Kathleen (b. 1893), three half-brothers, and a half-sister. He was educated at Aldenham public school, England, where an accident led to his lifelong lameness. Intending to become a lawyer, he entered TCD, graduating BA (1912) and MA, and was awarded a senior moderatorship in classics and the vice-chancellor's Latin medal for his study of Lucretius. He interrupted his legal studies, took a commission in the British Army Pay Corps, and was posted to Cork. He was on leave in Dublin during the Easter rising, and recorded his impressions of the events. In France for a year after the rising, his letters home express a growing interest in the Irish political scene. Demobilised with the rank of captain, Price absorbed the atmosphere of post-rising Ireland, began to support Sinn Féin, and adopted the name ‘Liam’. He took up a clerical position with the National Land Bank, established by Robert Childers Barton (qv) in 1919; was called to the bar (1919); and practised in the republican courts before the signing of the Anglo–Irish treaty (which he supported). He was one of the first district justices appointed after the establishment of the Irish Free State and spent periods in Carlow, Kilkenny, and Mullingar. He was assigned as district justice to the Wicklow circuit in 1924, a post he held until his retirement (1960).
Price learned Irish and developed a lifelong interest in local history and folklore. Elected a member of the RSAI (1926) and FRSAI (1934), he was editor (1932–44) of the RSAI Journal and president of the Society 1949–53 (he was elected in its centenary year), and became an honorary life fellow in 1959. He was elected MRIA (1933), was a member of the RIA committee of polite literature and antiquities, and served on the archaeological exploration committee. Nominated RIA vice-president for two sessions (1957–58, 1960–63), he served on the council for four periods (1940–42, 1946–7, 1955–8, 1960–64). He was an active member of Cumann Logainmneacha (the Irish Placenames Commission), and patron at the time of his death. He was also a founding member of the National Monuments Advisory Council and the Irish Folklore Commission, and served on both until his death. He was a government representative on the board of visitors of the NMI. In 1965 he was conferred with the degree of D.Litt., honoris causa (NUI). He is held to have considerably influenced the contemporary development of archaeology in Ireland, insisting on high standards of analysis and reporting; he himself worked on a number of sites in Wicklow and Cork.
He is principally remembered for his pioneering toponymical writings. His ‘Place-names of Co. Wicklow: the Irish form and meaning of parish, townland and local names’ (1935) was first presented as an RIA lecture. The place-names of Co. Wicklow was published by the DIAS (7 vols, 1945–67), tracing the earliest and later evidence for the names of over 1,300 townlands, including lost names. Price did not live to see the publication in 1967 of volume vii, The place-names of the baronies of Arklow and Newcastle, which included his essay on the historical background, the most complete historical study of Co. Wicklow to date. He contributed over forty articles to various journals, and edited An eighteenth-century antiquary: the sketches, notes and diaries of Austin Cooper (1759–1830) (1942). Price's twenty-five field notebooks (dating between 1923 and 1966) were published in 2002. They rarely provide any personal material, but contain a great deal of historical and toponymical information about the area of the country that he knew so thoroughly; some of the notes relate to sites and traditions now lost. Along with colleagues, including Seán Ó Súilleabháin (qv), he described and photographed houses and landscape inundated by the Blessington reservoir in the 1930s.
In his capacity as a district justice, Price treated drink-driving offences very severely and was strict with young offenders whom he felt were determined to embark on a career in crime. Joseph Raftery (qv) said: ‘He appeared to be a scholar of note whose hobby was the law’ (RIA Annual Report, 1966–7). He died 20 January 1967 at his residence, 8 Herbert Place, Donnybrook, Dublin. He was buried at St Maelruan's cemetery, Tallaght, Co. Dublin, beside his wife, Dorothy Stopford-Price (qv), whom he had married (8 January 1925) at St Ann's Church, Dawson St., Dublin. They had no children. He published privately a biography of her, Dr Dorothy Price: an account of twenty years’ fight against tuberculosis in Ireland (1957).