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Sgt Martin “Marty” Maher”
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Sgt Martin “Marty” Maher”

Martin “Marty Maher” was born on the 25th of June 1876.  After emigrating to America in the 1890’s, Marty decided to join the United States Army.  Over the next 50 years, thanks to his hard work, great sense of humour and Irish wit, he was to become, one of the most popular and celebrated soldier’s to have ever passed through, the gates of “West Point”.

Soon after his enlistment, Maher was assigned to the West Point gymnasium. He claimed he couldn't swim a stroke, but as the Department of Physical Training's swimming instructor from 1899 to 1928, he made sure that each and every cadet could.

It has been argued that Marty Maher knew personally more officers in the United States Army than any other person alive, the U.S.M.A. Public Affairs Office says. From Pershing to Patton, Bradley to Bolivar, Maher knew them all -- and he learned more than just their names. The scrappy young Irishman knew them well, and loved them. His work ethic, enthusiasm, and affection for the corps of cadets inspired many to love him, too --he was named an honorary member of the classes of 1912, 1926 and 1928.

One of Maher's former swimming students, Dwight D. Eisenhower (future general of world war II and President of America), wrote the foreword for Marty’s biography and says: I cannot put too high an estimate on the help [Maher] gave my morale. Marty, with his Irish wit and his talent for understanding, did the same for many, many others ... This foreword is meant to be a testament of the admiration and affection one soldier feels for an old friend, associate and helper, Sgt. Marty Maher of West Point.

Maher's impressions and memories of West Point in the book were so vivid that director John Ford made them into what is still called the best movie about the U.S. Military Academy -- The Long Gray Line. Starring Tyrone Power as Maher and Maureen O'Hara as his wife, Mary, the film provides a warm and humorous noncommissioned officer's perspective on our nation's oldest officer training institute.

Coronal Paul Flynn US Defense Attache, Chrissie O’Meara, Noel Coonan T.D, Margaret O’Meara, John Guilfoyle, Peg Maher Matone and Peg Keily, pictured at the unveiling of the plague in memory of Marty Maher.  The unveiling took place at Camblin Church, Roscrea

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After his 1928 military retirement, Maher took a civil service position in the gymnasium until he retired to New City, N.Y., in 1946. Even then, he would take the train to Highland Falls almost daily for meals and conversation at what is now the Park Restaurant: It 'tis, you might say, my APO, Maher quipped. He died on Jan. 17, 1961, at the age of 84 and is buried in the West Point cemetery close to none other than one of America’s most famous soldiers, General George Armstong Custer. There is now a memorial of Marty in Camblin graveyard in Roscrea.

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Sgt Martin “Marty” Maher”
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