Date: Sunday 22nd May
Venue: Killarney House & Gardens
Fr Ray Kelly is an Irish Catholic priest, best known for singing. Kelly became famous in 2014 after a video of him singing Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah while officiating at a couple’s wedding became a YouTube sensation.
JUGGLING a flourishing music career along with priestly duties is no joke – but that is a normal day in the life of singing sensation Father Ray Kelly.
The Tyrrellspass, Co. Westmeath, native spends the majority of his time working in his parish in Oldcastle, Co. Westmeath.
But when he is not at the altar, 62-year-old Fr Ray is on stage across the world performing to his fans – and he has just released his second studio album. In April 2014, Fr Ray became an internet phenomenon when his version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was uploaded to YouTube.
Performing the song in his parish church while officiating a wedding, his incredible voice was capture on camera. More than a year on from his initial fame, Fr Ray tells The Irish Post five things we need to know about his life.
1. The video that made him famous has been viewed 46million times
“I think it’s on something like 46 million views now,” he laughs. After being recorded by a member of the congregation on the day of the wedding, Fr Ray became an almost overnight star when his video went viral – and 46m views later, his life has been completely changed.
2. Before his solo career, he was in a boyband
When he was studying to enter the priesthood, Fr Ray was one of the founding members of the pop boyband Rafiki. “A group of us formed a pop group when we were students,” he said. “I think we were the first boyband before Boyzone or Westlife or Take That!”
Even though these days, he is touring the world and recording albums, Rafiki were a bit more low-key – and performed at local events. They even recorded a vinyl album for charity.
3. He gets recognised at unlikely moments
He was down in Mayo at a friend’s wedding last year when two women approached him at the breakfast table in the hotel the following morning. “These two women came over when I was having my breakfast and started saying Mr Hallelujah, Mr Hallelujah!” he laughed.
“It was funny and then a while later I was heading out the front of the hotel and there was about 30 of them standing at their bus waiting to get a picture of me.”
4. He travels to world to perform
“I suppose I’ve been away about a dozen times this year,” he said. “I’ve been to the US, the UK, Germany and Austria. Germany in particular I’ve been popular in, the video was very big there when it came out. It still is!”
5. The church is still his top priority
“People will be sick of Christmas songs soon but after this album I’d love to keep recording and touring,” he said. “I just need to make sure my parish is looked after and then I would be able to travel around the world and meet people and share my story with them and the message of hope that is there.”