Fr Ray Kelly
Fr Ray Kelly is literally an overnight celebrity sensation thanks to the power and reach of YouTube and his own gifts as a talented singer. Here he shares the news of his new found fame with Conor Deane and even performs a favourite tune in his private studio at his parochial house in Oldcastle Co. Meath.
Fr Kelly, who is originally from Tyrellstown, Co Westmeath, has been singing since he was very young and said that he is well known throughout the parish for his songs at weddings and funerals or while saying mass on a Sunday. Of late he has had people come from far and wide to attend Mass to hear him sing.
However when one of his songs was posted on YouTube from when he married Chris and Leah O’Kane in his parish, things just took off on a trajectory that music marketing executives could only dream about. The clip of his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah song has already achieved an astonishing 33,050,000 hits on YouTube and is still rising at the time of publishing this piece.
Fr. Kelly says he is really enjoying the show business side of life but he is in no way allowing this to change him or to interfere with his priestly duties which he says he will always remain faithful to and has told the very same to the Sony Music executives who want to sign him and will do so with Universal Music also when they come and speak with him about a record deal.
Fr Kelly (61) will celebrate his 25th year as a priest this year having joined the priesthood following a period working as a civil servant in Dublin for more than a decade.
“It was a decision made over a couple of years. A few of us went to Rome in 1980 with the Irish Catholic Youth Council, about 50 in my group and three or four of us went on to become priests,” he explained. Fr Kelly believes there is now a positive shift in Ireland towards the Catholic Church. He says his Bishop Michael Smith called to wish him luck before he went onto the Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy.
He is also being flown out to Germany in December to perform on national television over there. He has had calls from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Poland, South America to name but a few. It would be fair to say we will be seeing a good deal more of Fr. Kelly from now on.