by ehistoryadmin on June 29, 2023

Leinster Leader 20 January 2005

Death of Marie Maher marks end of an era

The recent passing of Marie Maher, daughter of Edward and Brigid Maher (nee Behan), Bridge Street, terminates three generations of the Behan family in Rathangan.

Marie’s grandmother took up residence with her family in 1916. Her son Tom bravely rescued two young men from drowning on 4 August 1916, one of whom was his great friend Stephen Conway, father of Leo Conway, well known businessman and community activist.

For this brave action Tom received a Citation from the Royal Humane Society together with a monetary award. Thomas Behan joined the 7th Brigade, 1st Eastern Division IRA and was the Intelligence Officer.

During the War of Independence he was interned in the Rath Camp, Curragh, by the British. While there he wrote a compendium of poems which clearly portray his deep religious beliefs and his unswerving nationalism.

Coincidentally, he saved Stephen’s life a second time. Although they took separate sides in the Civil War, Thomas intervened on an occasion when a volunteer under his command threatened to shoot Stephen who was in the vicinity. He told the volunteer he would have to shoot him first.

Commandant Thomas Behan, soldier, poet and patriot, was executed in the Curragh on December 13 1922.* A commemorative plaque is embedded in the left side of the canal bridge as one enters Rathangan.

His sister Harriet (Marie’s aunt) became Private Secretary and confidante to Eamon De Valera and was held in high regard by both sides of the house. She died in 1974.

Marie, who was educated in Loreto College, St. Stephen’s Green and UCD joined the staff of RTE and was eventually appointed assistant Controller of Programmes Television.

She retired prematurely to care for her mother and aunt Julia. Her knowledge and interest in sport, particularly tennis and rugby was encyclopedic and she enjoyed mastering cryptic crosswords.

The respect and affection with which she was regarded was evident at her obsequies and her passing leaves a void among her many friends in Dublin and Kildare. W.K.

*Editor’s note: Thomas Behan was not executed at the Curragh Camp, , on 13 December 1922, but was shot dead ‘while trying to escape’ from custody.

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