People on board
William Maher was born in 1876 in the South Dublin Union Workhouse to William Maher and Julia Scully. He joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1893 at the age of 17 and was awarded the South African Medal in 1899 in the Boer War. He gave his home address as 15 Lwr. George’s St Kingstown and it was there that a Julia Maher, widow aged 54 was living at the 1901 census. William has not been identified in the 1901 census, but he gave that same address on his marriage certificate in 1907 when he married Elizabeth Kelly of Wellington St. in Kingstown. William and Elizabeth had two children by the time of the 1911 census, when they were living in Dominick St, and there were six more children later. William’s occupation in 1911 was given as ‘General Labourer (Irish Lights)’. By 1918 he was employed by the CDSPCo. On the day of the RMS Leinster disaster he was employed as a Fireman. After the explosion he reached a life raft which also held 44 year old Louisa Toppin and her 13 year old daughter Dorothy. At one stage Dorothy was swept off the raft and William Maher dived into the sea and pulled her back on to the raft. This act of bravery was recognised in January 1919 when Louisa Toppin wrote to the Lord Chancellor describing the event. Maher was referred by the Board of Trade to the Royal Humane Society who presented him with their Silver Medal in September 1919. In addition, Dorothy Toppin presented William Maher with a watch in appreciation for saving her life.
William Maher later lived at 52 Desmond Avenue in Dun Laoghaire, where he died in 1953. He is buried in Deansgrange cemetery. In October 2018 a new headstone was unveiled on William Maher’s grave in Deansgrange.