Dolours and her sister, Marian, also an IRA volunteer, were the daughters of Albert Price, a prominent Irish republican and former IRA member from Belfast. Their aunt, Bridie Dolan, was blinded and lost both hands in an accident handling IRA explosives.
Price became involved in Irish republicanism in the late 1960s and joined the Provisional IRA in the early 1970s. She participated in a car bombing of the Old Bailey on 8 March 1973. The explosion injured over 200 people and is believed to have contributed to the death of one person who suffered a fatal heart attack. The two sisters were arrested, along with Gerry Kelly, Hugh Feeney and six others, on the day of the bombing, as they were boarding a flight to Ireland. They were tried and convicted at the Great Hall in Winchester Castle on 14 November after a six-hour deliberation by the jury.
Although originally sentenced to life imprisonment, which was to run concurrently for each criminal charge, their sentence was eventually reduced to 20 years. Price served seven years of her sentence for her part in the bombing. She immediately went on a hunger strike in a campaign to be moved to a prison in Northern Ireland. The hunger strike lasted more than 200 days because the hunger strikers were force-fed by prison authorities. The force-feeding ended after the death of another hunger striker, Michael Gaughan, in June 1974.
As part of the campaign, the sisters' father, Albert Price, contested West Belfast at the UK General Election of February 1974, receiving 5,662 votes (11.9%). The Price sisters, Hugh Feeney, and Gerry Kelly were moved to Northern Irish prisons in 1975 as a result of negotiations that occurred during a truce. In 1980, Price received the Royal Prerogative of Mercy and was freed on humanitarian grounds in 1981, purportedly suffering from anorexia nervosa.
The Price sisters remained active politically. In the late 1990s, Price and her sister claimed that they had been threatened by their former colleagues in Sinn Féin for speaking out against the Good Friday Agreement. Price was a regular contributor to The Blanket, an online journal, edited by former Provisional IRA member Anthony McIntyre and his American wife, Carrie Twomey, until it ceased publication in 2008.
After her release in 1980, she married Irish actor Stephen Rea. Following the introduction of the 1988–94 British broadcasting voice restrictions, Rea was hired to speak the words of Gerry Adams.
In 2001, Dolours Price was arrested in Dublin and charged with possession of stolen prescription pads and forged prescriptions. She pleaded guilty and was fined £200 and ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Price and Rea divorced in 2003; the couple had two sons, Danny and Oscar.
In February 2010, it was reported by The Irish News that Price had offered help to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains in locating graves of three men, Joe Lynskey, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, who were allegedly killed by the IRA and whose bodies have not been found.
At the same time, Price claimed Gerry Adams had been her "Officer Commanding" when she was in the IRA. Adams, who has never admitted to being a member of that group, denied the allegation. Price admitted to driving the kidnapped Jean McConville, accused by the IRA of being an informer, to the place where she was killed in 1972. She claimed the killing of McConville, a mother of 10, was ordered by Adams, who denied Price's story.
Oral historians at Boston College interviewed both Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes between 2001 and 2006. The two republicans and former IRA volunteers spoke on condition that the tapes not be released in their lifetimes. Both are now deceased. In May 2011, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) subpoenaed the material, possibly as part of an investigation into the disappearance of a number of people in Northern Ireland during the 1970s.
In June 2011, the college filed a motion to quash the subpoena. A spokesman for the college stated that "our position is that the premature release of the tapes could threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history, and the ongoing peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland."
In July 2011, US federal prosecutors asked a judge to require the college to release the tapes to comply with treaty obligations with the United Kingdom. On 6 July 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit agreed with the government's position that the subpoena should stand.
On 17 October 2012, the United States Supreme Court temporarily blocked Boston College from turning over the interview tapes. In April 2013, the Supreme Court turned away an appeal that sought to keep the interviews from being turned over to the PSNI. The order leaves in place a lower court ruling that ordered Boston College to give the Justice Department portions of recorded interviews with convicted IRA car bomber Dolours Price. Federal officials want to forward the recordings to police investigating the murder of Jean McConville.
On 24 January 2013, Dolours Price was found dead at her Malahide, County Dublin home, evidently from a toxic effect of mixing prescribed sedative and anti-depressant medications. The cause of death was not being investigated by the Garda Síochána. Price was buried in Milltown Cemetery in West Belfast on 28 January.
The ceremony was attended by prominent republican figures including Des Dalton, Colin Duffy, Paul Maskey, Danny Morrison and Hugh Feeney, alongside Price's ex-husband, Stephen Rea. Marian Price had been granted compassionate leave from prison to attend her sister's wake the previous evening, 27 January.