Fr Ray Kelly lands gig as a cruise ship entertainer with Daniel O'Donnell
News comes weeks after his Britain's Got Talent bid
HE may have missed out on his dream of making the final of Britain's Got Talent, but singing priest Fr Ray Kelly is set to win over a whole new legion of fans as a cruise ship entertainer.
The big-voiced clergyman is one of 30 Irish acts who have been booked by US-based Gertrude Byrne Promotions for a week-long cruise through Alaska's iceberg fields.
The "All Star Irish Charter Cruise" includes an impressive line-up of performers including headline act Daniel O'Donnell.
Fr Kelly, who is the parish priest in Oldcastle, Co Meath, can expect to be busier than his fellow entertainers because he's doubling up as the cruise ship's chaplain.
"I'm extremely excited about the cruise," he said. "It's in May next year and it'll be a whole new experience for me as I've never been on a cruise before.
"I think I'll be expected to perform a few times every day, but I'll also be available as the ship's chaplain, so I'd anticipate that I'll be kept pretty busy while I'm on the ship."
The 65-year-old also revealed that he will be putting his parish duties on hold in September for about three weeks, as he has been invited to return to the US for another tour.
Fr Kelly embarked on his first US tour last September, having built up large fan bases in America and Germany.
However, despite the growing demands of his music career, especially since his high-profile exposure on Britain's Got Talent, Fr Kelly insisted his parish duties will always come first.
"Britain's Got Talent was a great experience, and although I was disappointed not to have made the final it was really uplifting to have won over a new audience," he said.
"I was looked after very well, and it was an experience I will always remember very fondly.
"I feel very fortunate to be able to combine my work as a priest and to be able to sing to audiences too.
"I have to plan things well in advance to make sure I have cover in the parish when I'm not there, but it's really not a problem.
"However successful I might become with my singing, I've no intention of leaving the priesthood. That's extremely important to me, so I won't ever be giving that up."
Fr Kelly became an overnight sensation four years ago when a video of him singing the Leonard Cohen classic, Hallelujah, at an Irish couple's wedding went viral.
The clip has since been viewed more than 60 million times on YouTube.
Despite not making it to the final of Britain's Got Talent recently, Fr Kelly left a lasting impression on viewers and judges, with Simon Cowell describing his first try-out as one of his "favourite auditions ever".