John Nicholas Mawe was born in Tralee on January 11th, 1811. His second christian name, Nicholas, was given him in memory of his uncle Bishop Nicholas Madgett. He completed his early education in Tralee and entered Maynooth College in 1834. John Mawe was ordained in the Presentation Convent, Killarney, by Dr. Cornelius Egan, Bishop of Kerry, in 1838.
His first clerical appointment was as chaplain to Daniel O'Connell at Derrynane. He later served as curate in Caherciveen, Tralee, Abbeydorney and Dingle before being re-transferred to Tralee in 1850. On the death of Bishop Egan in 1856 and the transfer of Dr. David Moriarty to Killarney as Bishop, John Mawe was appointed Parish Preist of Tralee and Dean of Kerry.
As pastor of the parish, his life was one of devoted and untiring zeal for the glory of God and the spiritual well being of his people. The tower and spire of St. John's, the Presentation and Mercy Convents, the Christian Brothers' Monastery (Balloonagh) were completed during his period as Dean.
Dean Mawe was a fearless, avowed and valued champion of the poor and the oppressed. To ease their plight of overcrowding, he had a row of single-storey houses built off a lane in Moyderwell. Though the houses have now wholly disappeared the lane still bears his name - Dean's Lane. Dean Mawe was active in the Agrarian Reform Movement - he was among those who organised the Tralee Land Meeting in January 1877.
Dean Mawe died on Thursday, January 29th, 1880. He was interred in a vault between the Sanctuary and the Convent Chapel alongside his predecessor Dan John Gerald McEnery.