April 17, 2014 12:37 pm
Updated: April 17, 2014 12:59 pm

Irish priest shocked over success of ‘Hallelujah’ cover

WATCH ABOVE: Watch Rev. Ray Kelly sing a custom version of “Hallelujah”

TORONTO – The Irish priest who became a social media sensation said he is surprised at the worldwide attention he has received after his rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at a wedding went viral.

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“This morning, I was on Polish television over Skype and I did an interview with New Zealand radio, I’m doing a magazine interview later and a television crew is coming down today to film a documentary,” he told BBC. “I’m handling it with ease at the moment, but it’s Holy Week – the biggest week in the church’s calendar – so it’s quite a bit of pressure to work around the parish life while dealing with all the media attention.”

READ MORE:  Irish priest belts out ‘Hallelujah’ at wedding

Video of Father Ray Kelly’s altar-side performance has shot to the top of YouTube in Ireland with more than 26 million viewings since it was posted last Monday following the weekend nuptials of Chris and Leah O’Kane.

Kelly said he was recording his third album for charity when the video went viral.

“I was recording it at a local guy’s amateur studio but that may have to change now – a bigger organisation has booked me up,” he said. “The first two albums are nearly sold out now, because there were only so many copies printed.”

YouTube singing priest inspired by young girl

Despite his vocal talent, Father Kelly said he has 14-year-old Lucy Pitts-O’Connor to thank for his fame.

In 2010, the then-10-year-old wrote the lyrics for her godmother’s wedding.

“I wanted to make the song personal for my godmother’s wedding,” she said. “Father Kelly asked for the words and has been singing them ever since.

“My teachers were very shocked and really happy that it has been so big.”

Father Kelly said he is glad that the young girl is getting the recognition she deserves.

“When all of this broke, I genuinely couldn’t remember whether it was a group who gave it to me, but I’m delighted to see she’s getting the recognition and her mum and dad as well.”

As to whether he has heard from the famous artists who penned the original lyrics to ‘Hallelujah,’ the viral singing sensation tells BBC says no.

“I don’t know what Leonard Cohen would have to say about this – he hasn’t made any contact with me, so that’s probably a good sign.”

- with files from The Associated Press

© Shaw Media, 2014

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