Dancing priest Father Ray Kelly thanked the public for all the support he had received after he was eliminated from the Dancing with the Stars competition.
The Co Meath cleric had enjoyed ten great weeks on the show and won the heart of the nation with his non-stop smiling and great attitude to his performances.
However, all good things must come to an end, and Father Kelly admitted the time was right for him and his professional dance partner Kylee Vincent to leave the show.
He said: “I’m really excited, the worst part is what happened there waiting for the announcement and having to do the dance-off but then there were so many hugs and so many people wishing us well.
“Getting to week ten is beyond my wildest dreams. I am so happy that the best four dancers are going through to the semi-final.
“My brain was torn between wanting that to happen and honouring and respecting all the people who kept me in there the ten weeks.”
Father Kelly and his partner Kylee were ranked in the bottom two of all the pairs of contestants and forced into a dance-off against RTE radio presenter Lottie Ryan and her partner Pasquale La Rocca.
Judges Darren Bennett and Brian Redmond both voted to keep Lottie and eliminate Father Ray.
That meant that third judge Loraine Barry didn’t need to cast her vote, but she admitted she would have also gone the same way.
Father Kelly wasn’t upset at being eliminated, but full of celebration for his time on the show.
He said: I’m really emotional. It was marvellous. It was one of the best journeys of my life.
“It’s been one of those journeys that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“Kylee is an absolute saint, an amazing lady. She brought me a long way in dancing, and I hope we remain friends.”
It was a true rollercoaster ride for Father Kelly on Dancing with the Stars. One of his concerns when he agreed to be on the show was that he was not made to look silly, as a priest dancing with glamorous women in skimpy outfits.
Thankfully, a sensible approach was taken by the show’s producers and choreographers, and Father Kelly wowed viewers week after week.
He added: “The tango was kept from me due to the sexuality of the dance. I did ask they respect my role as a priest, and they did 100 per cent.
“What I brought to the show more than dancing was the fun element.”