As the constituency for the Parliamentary borough of Waterford in County Waterford, it returned one MP 1801–1832, two in 1832–1885 and one 1885–1922. It was an original constituency represented in Parliament when the Union of Great Britain and Ireland took effect on 1 January 1801.
In 1918, the boundary was redefined to exclude the Kilculliheen area which had been transferred to County Kilkenny under the 1898 Local Government (Ireland) Act. It was defined as consisting of the county borough of Waterford and the District Electoral Divisions of Ballynakill, Kilbarry, Killoteran and Waterford Rural in the rural district of Waterford.
The constituency was a predominantly Nationalist area in 1918. The seat was contested by William Redmond, the son of the IPP leader John Redmond whom he replaced in the Waterford City constituency in a by-election held in March 1918. In the general election of December 1918, it was the only Irish seat the IPP won outside Ulster.
The First Dáil
Sinn Féin contested the general election of 1918 on the platform that instead of taking up any seats they won in the United Kingdom Parliament, they would establish a revolutionary assembly in Dublin. In republican theory every MP elected in Ireland was a potential Deputy to this assembly. In practice only the Sinn Féin members accepted the offer.
The revolutionary First Dáil assembled on 21 January 1919 and last met on 10 May 1921. The First Dáil, according to a resolution passed on 10 May 1921, was formally dissolved on the assembling of the Second Dáil. This took place on 16 August 1921.