Noel G. Henry, born in Balla, Co. Mayo, traveled over to the United States in 1969. He worked as a soloist guitar player and singer in New York City before moving to Boston. He recorded his first album, entitled "With a Little Help From My Friends".
In 1972, his family in Ireland moved to America, and in 1974, he formed the Noel Henry's Irish Showband with his two brothers Mattie and Tommie. This began a legacy of quality Irish entertainment and fantastic music. The band traveled for years all over the United States, featuring the talents of many fine musicians.
In 1985, Noel founded Noel Henry Tours, which then brought the band and its followers on trips to Ireland, Getaway Weekends in New England, and cruises to Alaska, Bermuda and the Caribbean, and many more.
In 1988, Noel was diagnosed with cancer and took a year off from the band to undergo chemotherapy. One year later, he learned he had been cured and wrote the "Song of Thanks", which he performed the evening he returned to the band.
Six years later, the cancer returned and after a few months of battling the illness, Noel passed away on January 31, 1995. He left behind a wife and seven children.
Noel is remembered by family and friends as an extraordinary individual. Noel was not just an incredible musician but a true model of how all human beings should be. Noel touched the hearts of so many people through his music, his smile, his humor, and his generous heart.
Noel was a person who believed that helping others was one of the most important things you could do in life. He lived his life thinking of others and reaching out to people through his smile, his music, and his work with charities, especially the homeless shelter, St Francis House.
Noel has been described as "a very special person" and "a true Irish gentleman".
"Our community lost a gentle soul and extraordinary man. He was without a doubt a Saint on earth and has left an indelible mark on each of us."
Joan Comer, Duxbury, MA
"Song of Thanks"
By Noel Henry
I can see now as I walk this path of life
along with sunshine comes a little strife
And with it often comes a broken heart
And you feel like your whole world has come apart
And then from out the darkness comes a light,
A light that says I'm here to help you fight
A light that shines so brightly from above
If we'd only put our trust in His great love
Lord you've opened up my eyes and now I see
The wondrous gifts that you have given me
Like my health, my friends, my faith and family
And living in a country that is free
So help me Lord to realize and say
A prayer of thanks for each and every day
For I know not what tomorrow has in store
And soon you may be knocking at my door
I used to work long hours every day
And at times I thought I don't have time to pray
Or spend time with my family that I love
And my children that I am so proud of
Like so many in my search for happiness,
I never realized as you might guess
That around me all the time were the real treasures and material things and wealth are passing pleasures.
"Noel Henry Remembered"
By Jim Sullivan
Heaven became an even more precious place recently when Our Lady took Noel Henry's hand and brought him to her Son. As the thousands of us who loved Noel mourn his loss, we share a painful emptiness. For Noel was loved not merely for his beautiful music, but rather due to the very essence of the man.
Everyone who had the good fortune of knowing Noel clearly saw Christ within him. His devotion to our
Blessed Mother was profound, and he followed her instruction for a lifestyle which led him constantly closer
to the Lord. One need only to look toward his beautiful wife Winnie and his wonderful children to appreciate the splendor of living one's life with selfless love and inner peace. This blessing is also manifested in
the famililes of his brothers Mattie and Tommie as well as in the families of the members of his band.
Noel shared his faith and love with all that he came in contact. He touched the hearts and souls of
countless thousands. As for his impact on my own life, let me simply express how grateful
I am that I had the opportunity to say to him in the hospital
"What greater gift could anyone receive than that which you gave me?"
During his pilgrimages to Medjugorje he learned of our Blessed Mother's promise that "Peace is possible."
That peace must begin within each heart, spread thoughout the family, the community and eventually
throughout the world. Noel lived that peace and tirelessly imparted it to others. He taught us well.
Now it is our turn. What better tribute could we pay Noel than to follow his extraordinary
example and attempt to live our lives as he lived his. God Bless you Noel.
By Barbara Roper
Noel Henry now is gone
But his music will live on and on
He had talent so rare
And love in abundance to share
He was our hope, our inspiration
His life was one of dedication
His music floated far and near
And out across the hemisphere
Yes he touched the hearts of many
His gift of drwaing people was uncanny
Each person was his special friend
And they stuck by him to the very end
His family was his greatest treasure
The depth of his love for them had no measure
They were his life, his hope, his dream
A shaft of light on life's beam
When Noel first became ill
The shock made many just stand still
And say why dear God? No not him!
His children need him and so does Winn
His remission caused elation
Word quickly spread across the nation
But when the cancer returned
A flag of dispair was unfurled
People who never prayed before
On bended knees did implore
That God in his goodness would understand
And return him cured to the Noel Henry Band
Sometimes when we kneel and pray
We think our wish is the better way
When God's answer is not our request
We must understand that God knows best
When Noel chose Winnie for a wife
It was meant to be for life
A life with children, filled with hopes and dreams
But now those dreams have ended or so it seems
But Winnie is a hero, with strength unknown
Through her great faith this strength she has shown
She has been Mother and Father for a few years
Caring for their children through sadness and tears
Noel's dreams will not be lost
For this Winnie will fight at any cost
Their children will prove to their Dad
That their upbringing was the best
that any children ever had
Goodbye Noel, we will miss your gentle smile
We will all be united in just a little while
Your music will ring out across the land
And there will always be "A Noel Henry Band"
"It didn't really matter to Noel whether you were a follower of his music. If you needed something, he was there."
Con Keighran, San Francisco, CA
"He gave a very positive image of the Irish. During intermission, he used to come down off stage and mingle with the people. They loved him and his music and the band."
Fr. Tom Flynn, Cleveland, OH
Dec 24, 1948 - Jan 31, 1995
Noel was a hero to many, a role model for his loved ones, a person who left an imprint on people's hearts. People who met him would often times feel blessed and changed by knowing him. He was charismatic, genuine, gentle and compassionate. He has taught us how to live a life of love. He had deep faith in God and a belief that our purpose in life was to love, help and serve others. Through his cancer, he grew even closer to God and became more determined to live life in pursuit of love and service to others.
Noel was a person who inspired others by living a life of love through example. He believed that the value of your life was measured not through material things but through how you loved and treated others. He believed that we should give ourselves to those less fortunate. He believed everything we had was a gift from God and should be cherished.
I can't describe how proud and blessed I feel that my father was Noel Henry.
I thank God every day for the gift of having such an incredible human being raise me, love me, guide me and teach me. My childhood is filled with many fond memories, but most of all, it is filled with love because of my father.
My father taught me about the importance of faith in God - that God never leaves us or abandons us.
My father taught me how to be a decent human being - that how we love and treat others is the most important thing we do each day.
My father taught me that I must know myself - so that I don't lose my identity and what makes me unique in the face of peer pressure.
My father taught me that money is replaceable and that time with friends and family is not replaceable and therefore must be cherished.
My father taught me that the greatest gift you can give someone else is yourself - your time, a listening ear, an encouraging word.
My father taught me that admitting when you're wrong and apologizing does not show weakness but strength in character.
My father taught me that every person has gifts and their own unique purpose in life - but despite our different talents, we are equally valuable.
I learned all of those things from him, through the words of wisdom he shared with me as I grew up and through the example of his daily actions. Being a good father, good husband, good son, good brother and good friend was what governed his daily acts of love. Everything else came second.
I know he rests in Heaven and still guides me and prays for me every day. There is not a day that goes by that I don't miss him, but I cherish the fact that I had 18 years of my life with him. I know I am very lucky and blessed.
If I could see him again, I would make sure he knows how much he impacted my life and the person I am today.
"An Evening with Noel Henry"
By Jim Miller
We gather in concert with Noel, to hear him sing and entertain
To lift our hearts and spirits and dream of home again
Yes home in dear old Ireland, of dreams and lives gone by,
We dance and sing and talk, of tragedy and love and ask why
The music tells the stories, of lives lost for freedoms cause,
The unforgotten heroes, of family and of wars.
Our spirits raise in laughter, our problems set aside,
For an evening with Emerald music, open hearts filled with pride
There are songs of home and country, and one of Blessed Mary dear,
Who at Knock, as the song tells, will help us end our fears,
So Noel I stop and thank you, and your band of gold
For bringing Irish song and music, to the young and to the old.
I know life has taught you, to love God, Mary and family true,
And thank Him for the blessings that He has given you.
To close I will remind you, of the gift that music brings
To those who love to listen, as well as he who sings.
"My Friend Noel"
By Mike Heslin
For as long as I live, I shall always be grateful that I have known Noel Henry.
I consider him a gentle giant of a man who lived lis life by showing good example and dispensing it to others.
He loved his wife and his family dearly. Winnie and the children were always close in his thoughts.
He spoke lovingly and kindly of them at all times. With them life was complete.
He loved mankind. He loved his friends and fellow man as well. To this day I believe Noel was put on this earth as a special servant of the Lord, who brought out the kindness and goodness that is in us all and taught us to show it and live it to others (our fellow-man). I believe his band and the cruises were instruments of his great love. They were designed for the expression of "living life to the fullest", of loving and being loved and making
new friends to spread the joy and happiness, for bringing us closer to our God and
living the kind, unselfish life in the spirit of fun and laughter.
He loved his God abundantly. His cruises were retreats for me.
Each day began with Mass and the rosary and then "let the fun begin."
There were always priests close to Noel because He kepts them close - in reflection
it's because I believe they could see the goodness in him and he in them
- the mission he was on - the word he was spreading.
Noel has brought people back to the Church - close to their God and faith, and he was able to do it in such a way that they looked forward to returning. It's not always praying and bowing and genuflecting but rather
being kind, unselfish, charitable, by wearing a smile, by touching a heart with a loving word.
Thousands of people are happier because they've had the pleasure of knowing Noel.
We will always remember his smile and his gentle ways.
Maybe-just maybe, in some warped way, we can now understand why this great man, in the prime of his life,
was taken by God. Perhaps he is up there is that "bigger" ballroom sitting beside his Mom and charming
as many others with his "Our Lady of Knock" and several other lovely Irish songs.
This is my hope - this would be my greatest desire because no one deserves it more.
I love you Noel - as many others do too. You have made me a better person and the idea of never
having known you is unthinkable. Perhaps - one day - we will all cruise together up there. God bless us all.
Noel considered his career to be a gift from God. It reminded him that love of family and friends superseded material wealth.
He cut back on several successful business endeavours to spend more time with his family.
In 1992 he told the Irish Echo: "If there's one message I'd like to convey to people
it's that they shouldn't wait for something terrible to happen
before they realize what's important in their lives."
By Padraig Brennan - The Connaught Telegraph, March 22, 1995
Press Play to hear Noel Henry sing the "Song of Thanks"
Click on the links below to read Tributes to Noel Henry