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Power Genealogy and Power Family History Information

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About the Power surname

Though not Gaelic in origin, power is one of that class of hibernicized names (like Burke and Walsh) which may be regarded as one hundred per cent Irish. The name, now one of the most numerous in Ireland- it is estimated that there are about eleven thousand Powers in the country to-day - came with the Normans in Strongbow's twelfth century invasion. It is derived from the old French word povre (Latin pauper, poor) and was first written le Poer, a form still retained by one or two families. The poverty implied was rather that of a voluntary vow than of destitution. The Norman Powers settled in Co. Waterford where they are still more numerous than anywhere else: in fact nearly half their total is in that county and Power heads the statistical list for Co. Waterford. The remainder, apart from the city of Dublin, which contains people from all the provinces, are for the most part in the counties which adjoin Waterford, viz Cork, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Wexford. Baron le Poer was among the great Norman lords who took part in the thirteenth century occupation of Connacht, and Powers remained in that province under the Burkes. The name, however, does not survive in Connacht. Though few individuals are actually outstanding, many of the name have held positions of importance in the Church, notably as Bishops of Waterford; and many are recorded as participating in the age-long struggle against English aggression, particularly in the seventeenth century when two Powers were members of the Supreme Council of the Confederate Catholics in 1646 and later when a number of them fought in the Irish army of James II. Notwithstanding this fact the leading families of Power succeeded in retaining a much greater portion of their estates than most of their fellow-Jacobites. In the last century Tyrone Power (1797-1841) was a celebrated Irish comedian; Maguerite Power (1789-1849), better known as Countess of Blessington, was a popular novelist in her day. Frank Power (1858-1884), artist and journalist, was well known during his lifetime on account of his adventurous association with Gordon at Khartoum. In our own time Father Patrick Power (1862-1951), author of History of the Diocese of Waterford etc., was notable historian and antiquarian. Power's distillery produces a famous Irish whiskey.