In Memorium

The Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas wishes to recognize the exemplary lives of our friends who have passed on. These people are in our thoughts often and, through this page, we wish to publicly memorialize their commendable service, support and friendship.

Richard Joseph Byrne

richard-byrneRichard Joseph Byrne, 84, passed peacefully on Monday, June 19, 2017, with family at his side. Born August 13, 1932, Richard was a lifelong resident of Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from Catholic High School for Boys as an all-state basketball player. He graduated from St. Louis University, where he attended on a basketball scholarship.

He leaves his wife of 60 years, Emogene ‘Empie’ Byrne; his five sons: Ron (and wife, Ellen), of Oklahoma; Randy (and Jessica Rice), of Little Rock; Richard (and wife, Catherine), of Cincinnati; Roch (and wife Diana), of Little Rock, and Rusty (and wife, Debbie), of Little Rock. He also leaves behind 9 grandchildren (Will, John, Kate, Michael, Travis, Bailey, Darby, Holly and Kylie), who all deeply adored their ‘Zak.’ Richard was preceded in death by his mother and father, Zita and Leo Byrne, as well as his two brothers, Raymond and Robert Byrne.

Richard was a CPA and a member of the Arkansas Bar. He passed the Series 7, was a registered broker and commodity trader. Prior to falling ill with dementia, he was attending UALR music classes and was quite the pianist, composing several original pieces. He was past President of the Little Rock Jaycees, Grand Knight of the local Knights of Columbus chapter, a founding member of the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, and served as Grand Marshal of the 2006 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Richard was also a military veteran, serving in the U.S. Army.

A visitation was held at 6:00 PM on Friday, June 23, 2017, at Griffin Leggett Healey & Roth Funeral Home at 5800 W. 12th Street, Little Rock 72204, followed by a Rosary Service at 7:00 PM. Funeral mass was held Saturday, June 24, 2017, at 10:00 AM at Christ the King Catholic Church, 4000 N. Rodney Parham Rd., Little Rock.


Peg Roach Loyd

peg-loydMargaret “Peggy” Roach Loyd, 54, passed away Jan. 6, 2014 at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock.

She was born April 2, 1959, in St. Louis, MO to Paul and Mary Roach. She is survived by her loving husband of 30 years, George; her mother, Mary Roach, of St. Louis, MO; sisters Kathy Day (Tom) and Mary Pat Hennicke (Rich) and brother Michael, all of St. Louis, MO, and brother Paul of Basalt, CO, many nieces and nephews, and friends worldwide.

Peggy worked for many years at Baptist Health and SVIMC. An accomplished singer-songwriter, she won a Gold Medal in songwriting at the Midwest Fleadh for the past three years. She led the band Cairde and achieved her lifelong dream of making a living with her writing and music, recording band and solo CDs, performing in Ireland, and publishing her book, The Path. She was a founding member and president of the Arkansas Celtic Music Society, a past president of the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, and a Grand Marshal of the 2007 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.


John Oman

john-omanJohn Noel Oman, 78, of Little Rock passed away Saturday, June 21, 2012, in Jonesboro, AR after a brief illness. He was born on November 10, 1933, in Dublin, Ireland, to William and Margaret Murtagh Oman and was a member of the Catholic faith. Mr. Oman was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters, Sr. Patricia Joseph, O.S.F., of Aston, PA, and Eileen Oman Blaney of Dublin, Ireland; and two brothers, William “Billy” Oman and Patrick “Paddy” Oman, both of Dublin.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Mary Teresa O’Grady Oman; a daughter, Ruth (Carroll Jr.) Scroggin, of Jonesboro, AR; three sons, Noel (Cynthia) Oman of Little Rock, AR; John (Sinead) Oman of Killorglin, County Kerry, Ireland; and Brian (Gigia) Oman of Lake Village, AR; four grandchildren, Brendan Oman of Little Rock, AR, Fearghus Oman of Killorglin and Ian Oman and Molly Oman of Lake Village, AR; three sisters, Sr. Nancy Oman, O.S.F., and Margaret Oman, O.S.F., both of Aston, PA, and Sr. Agnes Oman, C.S.B., of Selbyville, DE; and three brothers, Fr. Francis Oman, I.C., of Peoria, IL; Ultan Oman of Harrisburg, PA; and Peter Oman of Homewood, IL; and a host of nieces and nephews.

Mr. Oman immigrated to the United States in 1954, celebrating his 21st birthday while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Though he left Ireland long ago, it remained in his heart, accent, and wit. He and Mary found fellowship among small but close-knit members of fellow Irish ex-pats in Little Rock who went on to form the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas.

He spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a master sergeant in 1975. It was a career that took him to nearly a dozen nations, including 206 combat missions over Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam as a flight engineer on a C-130 Hercules. In that role, he earned the Senior Aircrew Wings and Combat Crew Badge and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, among more than a dozen other decorations he earned in his Air Force career. Mr. Oman settled into a second career in Arkansas government, retiring as a grants coordinator for the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention at the Arkansas Department of Health in 1998. He was a member of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society and the Vietnam Veterans of America.

A visitation was held at 6:00 PM Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at Ruebel Funeral Home, 6313 W. Markham St., Little Rock, AR, followed by a Rosary at 7:00 PM. A Mass of Christian burial was held at 10:00 AM Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at Our Lady of Holy Souls Catholic Church in Little Rock, AR, with Father Erik Pohlmeier as celebrant. Burial followed at noon at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock, AR.

Nancy Strand

nancy-strandNancy McNelis Strand was born on December 27th, 1926 in Philadelphia, PA and passed away surrounded by family in Austin, TX on June 15th, 2012.

Nancy was dearly loved by so many people from all over the world. After graduating from NYU, she became the Director of Nursing at the University of Arkansas Medical Center where she traveled to the Philippines to recruit nurses for the United States. Later she became the Director of Nursing for the VA in North Little Rock, AR. She has written many articles for the Journal of Nursing magazine along with attaining several degrees including receiving her last masters degree at the age of 65.

After she retired from her 45 years in nursing she became involved in the Stephen’s Ministry, the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, and Al-Anon. She was always there for anyone that needed a shoulder to cry on or just to sit and listen over a cup of coffee.

Nancy loved to travel with her husband, Bart. They especially enjoyed taking cruises. Her favorite trip was to Alaska where they were lucky enough to see the whales. She was an avid photo journalist of every major event or trip in their lives. At any given time, a photo album can be found in her home with the date, time and place recorded.

Over the last few years, the insidious Alzheimer’s disease began to take her over. It eventually took her robust and active life away from her. But through all of this, she never stopped smiling. Her gentle spirit and soul always shone through.

She was preceded in death by the love of her life, her husband of 55 years, Bart, her youngest daughter, Sheila, her two brothers, Ed and Frank, and her parents, Ella and Edward. She is survived by her daughters, Deirdre and Maureen, her grandchildren, Siobhan, Maeven, Rhys, Colin, Erin, Ryan, and Kerry, Acia Gray and her nephews, John and Joe.

The family would like to thank New Century Hospice in Austin for their love and commitment to Nancy. Charla, Gia and Sarah—you are the best!


Tom O’Donoghue

tom-odonoghueThomas Ignatius O’Donoghue, 89, of Little Rock, AR, surroundedby his family, departed this life on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 after a brief illness. He was born in Stradone, County Cavan in Ireland, served in the British Merchant Marines during World War II, came to the U.S. after the war, and was proud to become a U.S. citizen. He married Pauline Rehm who preceded him in death and together they had four children.

Surviving Tom is his loving wife of 31 years, Patricia Wilson O’Donoghue, and his four children: Michael V. O’Donoghue of Fredericksburg, VA (Elena), Particia A. Ricoleau of Nanterre, France (Jean-Jacques), Maureen M. O’Donoghue of Little Rock, AR, John F. O’Donoghue of Atlanta, GA (Beth), and ten grandchildren. Tom is also survived by a brother, Monsignor James P. O’Donoghue, of San Diego, CA, a sister-in-law and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins in Ireland.

Tom was a devoted father, husband, and grandfather. He was a charter and devoted member of Christ the King Catholic Church in Little Rock, where he was active up until his death. He was a lifetime fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

Tom was proud of his 10 years of volunteer service at the Clinton Library and of his service in the Clinton Motorcade here in Arkansas prior to President Clinton’s election.

Tom was a founding member of the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, the Grand Marshal of the 2002 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and enjoyed participating with his many friends from Ireland. He loved Arkansas and was proud to be an American. He will be greatly missed by family and friends.

A funeral mass was held on Friday, May 11, 2012 at 1:00 PM at Christ the King Catholic Church in Little Rock, AR followed by burial at Calvary Cemetery.


Bart Strand

bart-strandBartholomew A. Strand, born August 23, 1923 in Dublin, Ireland, went to the Lord on March 25, 2011 in Austin, TX surrounded by his family. Bart and his wife, Nancy, had lived in Little Rock for over 45 years and just recently moved to Austin.

Bart came to this country after traveling around the world as an Irish merchant marine. He was docked in New York City where he met and married the love of his life in 1955 and then started his family. He was employed by the Royal Globe Insurance Agency as a safety engineer and was transferred to Little Rock, AR where he and his family settled in the Hillcrest area. He was an avid member of the Knights of Columbus, sat on the board of the Recovery Centers of Arkansas, and for years was a very strong presence in the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas. He was especially proud of being the Grand Marshal of the 2001 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Bart and Nancy loved to travel and they became regulars on the Holland America Cruise Line. As soon as they would return from one trip, they would start planning their next one. Eventually, he bought a boat that he named the Irish Rover and he would invite friends and family to the Lake Maumelle Yacht Club to join them for their afternoon biscuits and tea.

Having been a life long member of the Arkansas Repertory Theater, Bart always supported the performing arts. He loved a good concert and saved all his playbills.

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your field
And until we meet again, may God
Hold you in the palm of His Hand.

He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary Strand, his sisters Norrie and Maureen, and his daughter, Sheila. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Nancy, his two daughters, Deirdre and Maureen, Acia Gray and grandchildren, Siobhan Cook, Erin Gardner, Kerry Reyes, Ryan Harrison, Maeven, Rhys, and Colin Rogers and Patsy, Jim and Catriona Coady.


Peggy Monahan

peggy-monahanMargaret “Peggy” Monahan, 72, a 21-year employee of the Diocese of Little Rock, died suddenly on Saturday, June 19, 2010. She was born October 8, 1937. Peggy was named the Grand Marshal of the 2005 St. Patrick’s Day Parade and was one of the founding members of the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas (ICSA), the organization presenting the Parade.

“I’m very proud of my Irish heritage. I read the letter three times before it penetrated that they had selected me to be this year’s Grand Marshal,” said Monahan at the time she was named Grand Marshal. Her mother, Margaret Kirrane Joyce, was born in Sligo, Ireland and her father, Michael Monahan, came from Galway, Ireland.

Monahan, who served as Secretary for the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas for several years, was awarded the title of Grand Marshal of the 2005 St. Patrick’s Day Parade by unanimous vote of the ICSA board members who recognized her many years of volunteer service for the organization.

Monahan grew up in New York and New Jersey. She came to Little Rock, AR more than twenty years ago when her husband was transferred with New York Bank for Savings and ran Modern American Mortgage Company. Monahan took a job at the Diocese of Little Rock where she served as secretary to the school superintendent. Monahan was the mother of two children – a son, Larry, who lives in Bryant, AR and daughter, Margaret Hailey, who lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband, Scott, and their four sons.

“My grandsons range in age from two to sixteen years of age,” Monahan said when interviewed in 2005. And no doubt they all looked forward to seeing their grandmother honored as the Grand Marshal of the 2005 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We remember how her face beamed with pride as she rode in the horse drawn carriage wearing the Grand Marshal sash and then later watched the rest of the parade from the grandstand. Peggy is sorely missed by all who knew her.


William G. “Jerry” Ryan

jerry-ryanThe Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas mourns the loss of one of our members, Jerry Ryan, who served as a faithful volunteer at many ICSA events and was honored as the Grand Marshal of the 2004 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. We will miss you Jerry!

William G. “Jerry” Ryan, age 60, went to be with the Lord on July 13, 2004. Jerry was preceded in death by his father, William L. Ryan; step-father, Marvin Hogan; and nephew, Steven Sims. Jerry fought a valiant battle with cancer for the past seven years with great dignity.

Jerry was a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the U.S. Army and receiving numerous medals. He served as Post Commander of VFW 8472 in 1984-1985, was Past President of the Pulaski Heights Jaycees in 1978-1979, was a Life Member of the Jaycees International Senate, and member of the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas from which he was honored to be the Grand Marshal of the 2004 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Before his illness, he was manager of Carriage Trade Cleaners in Little Rock.

Jerry is survived by his mother, Floy Hogan, of Little Rock, AR; sisters, Mamye Hogan of Little Rock, AR and Ann Ryan Sims of Conroe, TX; niece, Karen Sims Bennett and husband, Paul; grand-nephews, Ryan and Chase Cantrell; uncle, James T. Whitlock and wife, Elaine; and numerous cousins.

A memorial service was held at the Huson Funeral Home with Rev. Mike Childers officiating. Jerry’s greatest desire was to visit Ireland and, thru the kindness of his friends Tim and Breda Ryan, his ashes were spread on the homeland he always desired to visit.

The family wishes to thank Susan Tate and Dr. Singh in Little Rock’s VA Hospital for all the kindness and care they extended to Jerry.


Henry Hayes

henry-hayesHenry Hayes was born in Cork City in Ireland on May 29, 1923, and departed this life on August 12, 2009 surrounded by his family. Henry loved people and never missed an opportunity to chat with them. He often said, “When I go, I want to leave more friends than money.” That he got his wish was evidenced by the great turnout at his services.

Henry’s father had to leave to find work in America when he was just 3 years old. He grew up with his Mum and 3 brothers, Willie, Nick, and Frank, all of whom he idolized. Despite times being tough, he always said that they had a really happy home, which was full of chat, fun, and laughter, with never a cross word spoken. He was a wonderful son, brother, husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

Henry was involved in a huge variety of activities all his life. He was a keen sportsman and especially loved table tennis and soccer. In later years he was an avid Manchester United supporter. He was involved in scouting from a young age, and was very proud of his achievements with his troop, the 7th Cork. They won the Cork Diocesan Shield when it was first competed for in 1936 and in 2008 he was presented with a special neckerchief/scarf to honour the occasion.

Henry always had a great love for music and singing and was also a Champion Ballroom Dancer in his early years. However, he will probably be best remembered as an MC, especially in St. Frances Hall and Arcadia, where he fronted all the Big Bands over many years. He loved Ceili dancing and spent many a Sunday night calling out the steps to dancers at his own Ceili’s in Moore’s Hotel.

In 1938, when he was just 14, his father died. He had to leave school and go out to work to support his family. His first job was in Elvery’s in Patrick Street and, even though he worked full time, he continued to go to school at night to get his exams. He always aspired to having his own business and, having developed an expertise in flooring, this ambition was realised with Harco Limited. Through his work he became a member of the IFTBA (Irish Furnishers Trade Benevolent Association).

Henry was a lifelong pioneer (Pioneer Total Abstinence {from alcohol} religious association) and was also very active in the Legion of Mary from his teenage years. Through the Legion he met the love of his life, Maire. They shared more than 60 wonderful years together and, in all that time, their love for each other was evident for all to see. He loved nothing better than to be surrounded by his family. His capacity for love was unending and unconditional.

Henry and Maire went on holidays to the continent every year but when his daughter Maire moved to Little Rock, AR in 1991, it became their second home. Their son Der’s family moved there in 1993 and they spent 6 weeks there every summer. The Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas was founded and the members of the Society were like a second family to them. In 1996, Henry did MC at their first ever Irish Festival and again, in 1997, he did MC for a concert at UALR featuring Jim Keigher.

In the six months prior to his death, Henry’s only wish was to be well enough to attend his grand-daughter Claire’s wedding. He was so thrilled to have his granddaughters Eimear and Meghan home from Little Rock with his great grandchildren. He had a ball that day and really enjoyed meeting and chatting with everyone. He even went on the bandstand to thank everyone and lead us all in a final sing-song. He was buried three weeks to the day following the wedding.

Henry’s life spanned 86 years and, during times of unprecedented change, he triumphed over many of life’s trials and tribulations. His spirit and sense of humour has been an inspiration to all of us. He was always a fun loving, kind, caring person and we are privileged to have known him as a person and to be members of his family. His grandson Conor, who is in the U.S. Navy, remembers him with pride and posted this request on Facebook to his friends the day he died:

“Please pray for my grandfather, Henry Hayes, who passed away today.
May God bless him – for he had a great life here.
He was the only grandfather I knew and I loved him with all my heart.
God rest your soul Granddad!”

He is survived by his wife Maire, brother Nick, sons Dermot and Ciaran, daughters Jo, Maire, Therese, and their families.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dhilis.