Mystery plaque found in Cairns

CDFHS has been informed of the existence of a marble plaque – broken in two – that was found in a building in Cairns which is set for demolition.

There is evidence on the back of the plaque that it was previously attached to something, possibly a headstone.

How did it come to be in a building in Cairns?


John Joseph Maher plaque


The inscription reads:

“In loving Memory of | My Dear Son & Brother | John Joseph Maher | Died 21st December 1946 – Aged 24 years.”


A search was made of the Queensland Birth Death and Marriage Index but it did not find anyone named Maher or Meagher who died at that time.


Queensland and New South Wales newspapers were then searched in Trove, and the following two items were found:


Sydney Morning Herald – Monday 23 December 1946 – p14

MAHER, John Joseph – December 21 1946 at hospital, John Joseph Maher of 57 Curlewis street Bondi, dearly loved son of Michael and the late Elizabeth Maher and loving brother of Nancy, aged 24 years. Requiescat in Pace.


1946 death notice J J Maher



MAHER – Requiem Mass for the Repose of the Soul of the late Mr John Joseph Maher of 57 Curlewis Street, Bondi will be celebrated at the Church of the Holy Cross, Woollahra tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 9 O’clock.  The funeral will leave the Church after Mass, Tuesday morning for the Botany Cemetery.  W.N. Bull Pty Ltd AFDA.


1946 funeral notice J J Maher


The New South Wales Birth Death and Marriage Index was then searched and found:




And the Botany Cemetery/Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park records his burial with his mother Elizabeth in the same grave.


If this is the same John Joseph Maher, how did this plaque get to Cairns in Far North Queensland?


Checking the 1949 Electoral Roll for Bondi Beach shows his father and his sister living at the address shown in John Joseph’s death notice – 57 Curlewis Street:


1949 electoral roll Michael and Nancy Maher at Bondi


Using Nancy’s full name from the electoral roll, a possible marriage is found for her in 1949 to a James Joseph WILLIAMS in Randwick, NSW:




Could John Joseph Maher’s sister Nancy have moved to Cairns?

Did John Joseph have any other siblings or relatives that could have lived in or moved to Cairns?

Could the following NSW marriage entry be the right one for John Joseph’s parents?




If you know anyone from this family, or have any information that could help, please contact Cairns & District Family History Society (email

Please share this post to see if we can solve the mystery and find the rightful home for this plaque.

Thank you!


Posted in Genealogy and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Nancy Lorraine Williams nee Maher passed away on 17 October 2015. Her obituary was published in the Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper. Her deceased brother is also mentioned along with the names of her husband, children, their partners and grandchildren. The funeral director’s contact details are included. I will email this information to the society and hope this enables the plaque to be returned to it’s rightful owners. Kind Regards Nicole GFHS President

    • Thank you so much Nicole, have followed up your leads and the funeral director is going to try and contact the person who arranged Nancy’s funeral to ask if they will get in touch with me.

  2. his death being the end of December it was recorded in the following year. John Joseph Maher son of John Joseph Maher and Rose Ahern. John Joseph Snr was up for election on the QATB, red cross board in Mossman in 1940 and was a mentor for the Mossman boxing troupe. “for the first time in the history of cairns a strong troupe from Mossman under the management of Jim Gaffney with w boyd and J Maher as mentors. There was also Maher families in Gordonvale and Mt Sophia.

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