Another interesting story from the Great War is that of Private Patrick Maher, service no. 25837 of the 2nd Batt/SWB. Patrick was born c. 1882 to James Maher a farmer of Lower Connahy (sic) and his wife Mary, née Walsh, whose household features in the 1901 and 1911 census returns. Patrick was one of the few Kilkenny farmers’ sons to see active service in the Great War.
His father James, was 52 years old in 1901 while Mary (née Walsh) his wife was aged 44 years. The couple had married c. 1878-9. Patrick would appear to have been their first child. His others siblings were; Margaret, Mary, Bridie, Edward, Nicholas, Michael, James and Alice.
All these were present in the house in 1901 as well as a Bridget Maher, then aged 34 years, who was a sister of James Maher, the head of the household. In the 1911 return, Patrick, Bridie, Michael and James had departed or at least were not present. From this return we also learned that during the 32 years of marriage 11 children had been born alive to James and Mary Maher, nine of which were still living.
From his surviving war record we know that Patrick enlisted at Cardiff and interestingly enough he served for at least part of his service under his mother’s maiden name of Walsh, which suggests that there had been some parental opposition to his enlistment, or if not he was himself anxious to keep his true identity secret.
His service record tells us that he served twelve years with the colours and saw service at Gallipoli where he landed with his battalion on 22 September 1915. He was to loose his life in action on 6 April 1916 when he would have been in or about 34 years of age. His parents at Lower Conahy, Jenkinstown, were subsequently sent their son’s 1915 Mons Star, BM & VM . He is commemorated on the NKG – Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France, pier & face 4A.
Other Maher soldiers included in our findings are : Pte. Daniel of Sheestown & Freshford, enlisted with the Royal Irish Regiment ; Pte Edward Maher (or Meagher) of Great Oak, Ballycallan, Kilkenny joined the Irish Guards, leaving his employment at Callan Creamery. He was to die on 6 June 1917 after an operation in a London hospital for appendicitis had gone wrong ; Sapper Edward Joseph Maher of Kilkenny, a cook by trade who by the time he enlisted was living in Philadelphia, where he joined the Canadian Engineers and was part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force ; John Maher, a resident of Upper Patrick St., Kilkenny ; Lance Corporal John Maher, (R.Ir.Reg) of Mooncoin who at the time he enlisted was in the employe of a Mr. Walsh of Thomas St., Waterford. After the war he rejoined his wife, Bridget at 17 Walsh’s Lane, Ballybricken ; Pte John Maher of Castlecomer, a miner employed at Pelton Fell Colliery who was living at Pelton (Durham); Cpl John Maher of Callan, whose mother, Elizabeth lived in James’s St., Kilkenny. In February 1915 he was awarded the DCM for services with the 2nd Battalion of the Leinster Regiment. He was to loose his life on 9 May 1915 and was subsequently awarded a bar to his DCM, for his services with the 1st Battalion at St. Eloi ; Pte John Maher of Clara, a gardener who enlisted at Kilkenny for 5 years with the Colours and 7 years with the Reserve on 29 June 1889 when he was 19 years of age. He saw action during the Ashanti Expedition to the Gold Coast for which he was awarded the Ashanti Star. He also saw service in the Boer War and much later in the Great War. His father was William Maher of Lyrath near Kilkenny city; then we have Pte John Maher of Ballyragget, a saddler, who joined the Irish Guards ; Pte Michael Maher of Urlingford who enlisted at Liverpool, served with the Royal Irish Regiment and was killed during a German attack at Shell Trap Farm in the Ypes Salient, 24 May 12916 ; Pte Michael Maher of Callan who also served with the Royal Irish Regiment until he was also killed in action, on 24 May 1915 ; Pte Michael Maher of Urlingford, (R. Ir. Reg) who married a Mary Crotty of Portlaw, Co. Waterford where he established his home. He saw service in Madras in India before the Great War.
He disembarked in France 26 May 1916 and was wounded in action at Shell Trap Farm (gas poisoning). He survived the war and returned to Portlaw ; Pte Patrick Maher of Kilkenny city who by the time he enlisted, was a baker living in New South Wales, Australia ; Cpl Peter Maher who enlisted in New York was killed in action 29 September 1918 ; Gnr Peter Francis Maher (RGA) who hailed from Thomastown, saw service in Bermuda, Egypt, Sudan, Hong Kong ; Thomas F. Maher also served.
He was living at Michael St., Kilkenny, in 1919 when he was registered to vote as an army & navy veteran ; Pte Thomas Maher of Castlecomer, a shoemaker by trade who enlisted at Montreal and saw service with the 87th Bn., Canadian Expeditionary Force ; William Maher, originally from Conahy but was living in Naas, when he enlisted in Dublin (RDF), saw service in the Boer War, subsequently in the East Indies and was at Lucknow, in India by February 1903. In 1904 he married Mary Buggy of Conahy in Ballyragget . Subsequently he saw service in France and volunteered for retention in the Army of Occupation until November 1919 ; Pte William Maher of St. John’s, Kilkenny city who joined the Leinster Regiment, saw action in France. He married Mary Jordan in St. Mary’s Cathedral in January 1917. He too survived.
John Kirwan is the author of a soon to be published book on Kilkenny men in the Great War