Farewell Ray Kelly


How It’s New York: The Mickey Finns are a New York-based band; they list their hometown as “NYC” on their facebook page.
How It’s Irish: They played Irish rock, and Ray Kelly was from Clare.

We’re shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Ray Kelly, lead singer of The Mickey Finns, and one of the founding members of The Prodigals. Facebook has lit up with musicians and friends expressing grief and condolences, on The Mickey Finns’ page and on their own. He is survived by his family, who are according to Murph Guide.com,  his wife and son Jude, his son, Robert, and daughter, Rachel. We also share sympathy with his bandmates,  fiddler Matt Mancuso, drummer Brian Tracey, and multi-instrumentalist Eric Kaye.

From the band’s website:

The core of the band has remained the same.  Singer/Guitarist, Ray Kelly, hails from Co. Clare and his whiskey soaked voice is the trademark of The Mickey Finns sound.  Kelly was one of the original members of the “jig punk” band, The Prodigals, recording two albums with them and helped usher in a new era in Celtic Rock sound.  His song, “Tanks and Barbed Wire”, about the struggles in Northern Ireland has become a staple on Celtic Rock radio and remains a fan favorite at live shows.

Literally only last week Mike Farragher gave The Mickey Finns new album,  Prayers and Idle Chatter, as his choice for “Album of the Year.”

 In his post Music: Best Irish Rock of 2012: From IrishCentral.com Mikewrote:

Album of the Year: Mickey Finns’s Prayers and Idle Chatter

Co. Clare singer/guitarist Ray Kelly’s whiskey-soaked voice should be familiar to fans of Irish music. He was one of the original members of the jig punk band The Prodigals and his ragged voice, so perfect for the punk idiom, adds a spicy outlaw vibe to the southern-fried Celtic country rock that is the Mickey Finn sound. He is joined by fellow Prodigal Brian Tracey in the band, who mans both the drum kit, writer, and producer’s chair on the album. He lets loose on “Loop Reels,” a percussive delight that infuses funk to the folk of the fiddle. 

“We definitely feel like it was a big step for us,” says Tracey of the new album. “There was something extra special for us in the making of it and we were hoping that people would appreciate it. We didn’t expect it to reach this many people! We got a request for the lyrics to McGuinness’ Mass from a family named McGuinness in Melbourne, Australia. We expected it from family and close friends, but didn’t expect random people that never really heard of us were able to find us.”

Songs like ‘Return of the Prodigal Son’ and ‘The Jester’ have become crowd favorites in their ferocious live shows. 

“The fan reaction is amazing,” says Ray Kelly. “It was so great to see Brian come into his own with the writing. Just hearing some of the rough tracks he came up with, you knew we had something. After some hard work, we really found our sound. I am so proud of this album!” 

As well he should be! This is the tastiest southern-fried shamrocks you’ll ever feed your ears!


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  1. Avatar
    Christel Rice / January 11, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    He will be sorely missed; Condolences to the Kelly family during this tragic time.

  2. Avatar
    Anonymous / January 11, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    So sad. A great guy with a great heart and voice

  3. Avatar
    The Highland Rovers Band / January 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Ray was truly one of a kind. Witty, creative, wild, warm, generous and most of all a kind hearted soul behind a mischievous grin. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kelly family and all those who were fortunate enough to have been entertained by Ray. On behalf of The Highland Rovers Band, we will miss you terribly. Thanks for all the fun times you shared on stage with us and the after hours antics in your pub.

  4. Avatar
    Micheal and Maureen / January 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Ray was a more than just a fine musician, he was a Clare man true & true. I remeber the first day my fiancee and I met him and he answered our “Up the Banner” cry. We enjoyed our talks of the days when he was deliverin’ the post or workin as a butcher back home on the isle. We raise a glass of Powers to you Ray. You were a fine lad and will be missed.

    Ar dheas Dé go raibh a anam.

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