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About Us

The Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas (ICSA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, public service organization founded in 1996 to educate Arkansans in aspects of the culture and history of Ireland. The Society provides Irish food and objects of Irish art for folk festivals and fairs, provides concerts of Irish music and dance, and participates in community service programs and events – all in an effort to reconnect Arkansans with their Irish heritage.

The ICSA was originally founded by a group of Irish nationals, many of whom had immigrated to Arkansas during the nursing shortage of the 1980’s. Recruited by area hospitals, nurses from Ireland and Great Britain came to Arkansas originally intending to work here a few years and return to their homeland. Instead they married and settled in Little Rock and began to raise families.

As their children grew, they realized the importance of passing on their Irish culture and heritage to their American-born children. Together with their Irish-American friends, they formed the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas with the following goals:

  • To develop and further enhance local interest in the culture of Ireland and its people.
  • To publicize the presence of an active Irish community in the Little Rock area.
  • To reacquaint Arkansans of Irish descent with their culture and ethnic history.
  • To familiarize the general public with the culture of the Irish people and the richness of their contribution to America

The group has about 80 members who share a love for and interest in Ireland.

The Society presents an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. Prior to the parade, the Society held an annual festival on or near St. Patrick’s Day. As the success of the annual festival grew, so did interest in a community-wide parade. The 15thAnnual St. Patrick’s Day Parade which will take place onSaturday, March 15, 2014. Please check back later in the year for more details.

Our Committee

Jim Doyle, President - Jim (at) irisharkansas (dot) org
Eimear Fuller, Vice President - Eimear (at) irisharkansas (dot) org
Eimear Hayes Melton, Secretary - E.Melton (at) irisharkansas (dot) org
Meghan Baser, Treasurer - Meghan (at) irisharkansas (dot) org
Keith Melton, Public Relations Chair- Keith (at) irisharkansas (dot) org
Tim Ryan, Parade Committee Chairman - Tim (at) irisharkansas (dot) org
Eimear Ryan, Parade Committee Co-Chairman - Eimear (at) irisharkansas (dot) org
Anne Downes, Sponsorship Committee Chairman - Anne (at) irisharkansas (dot) org
Breda Ryan, Grant Committee Co-Chairman
Phyllis Butler, Grant Committee Co-Chairman
Mary Rose Fansler, Committee Member, Crossroads Event
P.J. McCafferty, Committee Member, Crossroads Event
Woody Butler, Committee Member
Geraldine Clarke, Committee Member
Michael Downes, Hot Springs Village Liaison
Margaret Higgins, Committee Member
Michael Higgins, Committee Member
Al McGuire, ACMS Rep 
Mary Murphy, Committee Member 
Gerri Spillane, Committee Member

Our Parade Grand Marshals

2013 - Tim & Breda Ryan
2012 - North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hayes
2011 - Msgr. John F. O'Donnell
2010 - Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola
2009 - Coach John McDonnell
2008 - Tim and Barbara O'Brien
2007 - Peg Roach Loyd
2006 - Richard Byrne
2005 - Peggy Monahan (deceased)
2004 - Mary Murphy
2003 - Jerry Ryan (deceased)
2002 - Tom O'Donoghue (deceased)
2001 - Bart Strand (deceased)
2000 - None

About St. Patrick

St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in the United States since the early 1700’s. March 17th is honored as the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick. Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated as a holy day in Ireland. Early Irish immigrants to the United States took the day to celebrate their roots and their homeland. Today, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Saint PatrickSt. Patrick was the son of a Roman official, Calpurnius, living probably in Wales. As a boy of sixteen, Patrick was captured by raiders and sold to an Irish chieftain, Milchu. He spent years in slavery. He escaped following a dream in which a voice told him a ship would be waiting to take him to his own country. After a journey of 200 miles he found the ship, and was eventually able to return to his family. One night, in a dream, he heard voices calling him back to Ireland. The year 432 is the traditional date for Patrick's return to Ireland.

Irish annals give the date of Patrick's death as 493, but an earlier date of 461 seems more likely. Tradition says he died at Saul and was buried at nearby Downpatrick. (From A Little Book of Celtic Saints by Martin Wallace, illustrated by Ann MacDuff)

Community Outreach

The Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas is best known as the organizer of the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. However, in addition to promoting Irish culture and history to the people of central Arkansas, the Society also volunteers time, effort, and resources to various organizations, charities, and causes in the area including:

Arkansas Department of Career Education
Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN)
Arkansas Rice Depot
Central Arkansas Library System
Little Rock Gaelic Athletic Association
National Marrow Donor Program
Salvation Army Central Arkansas

Irish Cultural Society GEAR!

ICSA T-Shirts just $15, plus $2 for postage

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OR mail check or money order to:
Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, Inc.
P.O. Box 56018
Little Rock, AR 72215

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©2012  |  The Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas  |  P.O. Box 56018, Little Rock, AR 72215