James Power (1889-1927) was the Irish grandfather of British comedian Paul Merton (best known for his witty quips on the panel show Have I Got News for You).
James was born and raised in Crooke Co. Waterford. He was the eldest son of agricultural labourer Edmond Power. His mother, Mary Anne Gough died when James was 9. Anastasia Gough, an unmarried aunt helped raise the young family of 7 children.
By 1911, James had moved to Dublin where he found work as a grocer's assistant. He was living over the shop in Nort Earl Street near Mountjoy.
James joined the Royal Irish Regiment of the British Army and was serving in Dublin in 1916. For his service during the Easter Rising, he was awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal but handed them back and joined the fight for independence.
In 1923, James Power of Crooke (a labourer) married his neighbour Julia Kennedy (a domestic) also of Crooke. As he found few opportunities for work in Ireland, he had to leave Julia and his young family at home in Crooke to join the Merchant Navy.
He was employed as a fireman and trimmer on a boat called the Sheaf Lance docked at Barry, South Wales. In December 1926, it delivered coal to Brazil and Argentina, and returned to Penarth, near Cardiff, on April 5, 1927.
Soon after the boat docked, tragedy struck. John, age 37, had a heart attack and fell into the Glamorganshire Canal. A local shopkeeper identified James, stating in the inquest: “I identified him particularly by his ginger moustache.”
The news of James’s death came as such a shock that his wife Julia, back in Ireland, went into premature labour and died. Julia outlived her baby son by only a few days. Their orphaned baby daughter (the mother of Paul Merton) was fostered in Ireland.
Through the UK show "Who Do You Think You Are?" the family discover for the first time the circumstances of John's death and his final resting place – an unmarked grave in Cathays cemetery in Wales.
|Date of Birth||12th May 1889||VIEW SOURCE|
|Date of Death||5th Apr 1927|
|Mother (First Name/s and Maiden)||Mary Anne Gough||VIEW SOURCE|
|Father (First Name/s and Surname)||Edmond aka Edward Power of Crooke (labourer) born 1851||VIEW SOURCE|
|Townland born||Crooke, Woodstown, Co. Waterford||VIEW SOURCE|
|Names of Siblings||Mary Power b. 1885| Michael Power b. 1890 | John Power 1892 | Johanna Power 1894 | Margaret Power b.1896 | Ellen Power b. 1898||VIEW SOURCE|
|Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname)||Julia Kennedy, daughter of John Kennedy of Crooke (labourer)||VIEW SOURCE|
|Place & Date of Marriage||Crooke RC Church, Woodstown, Co. Waterford||VIEW SOURCE|
|Names of Children||Mary Anne (names for her paternal grandmother who died young)|
|Place of Death||Cardiff, Wales.|