Father Ray Kelly has admitted that the abuse he suffered while competing on Dancing with the Stars put him at an ‘all-time low’ and had him in tears.
The Co Meath cleric was eliminated from the talent show after spending ten weeks performing for the nation.
However, as can be the case for people in the public eye, Father Kelly was the target of online abuse from trolls.
There was one moment that the abuse escalated, and Father Kelly received a threatening phone call.
He was left feeling devastated after receiving “one of the nastiest phone calls that ever came to anyone in their life”.
He spoke about the ordeal with Irish chat king Ryan Tubridy. He said: “I took a call at about 7.30pm in the evening, it was someone with either a Cork /Kerry accent, that’s for sure.
“And for some reason I was suspicious, I said: ‘Oh he’s not here, can I take a message?’
“Every second word was the F word, dancer, priest, parish, parochial house, housekeeper, fat, belly, dancing around the floor. And he is laughing through it all.”
“So I said, ‘He’s not here, can I take a message?’ and he said, ‘Well you tell him from me, and the whole spate again and I said, ‘Can I say who is calling?’ and he gave me his name.”
Understandably, Father Kelly was shaken by the call. He was so upset he strongly considered leaving the Dancing with the Stars show but was talked round by the producers.
He explained: “I said, ‘look pull me out of this, I can’t take it anymore, I’ve had enough.’ And we talked and we talked, and they said, ‘Report that call to the gardai’.”
“I was just at an all-time low. It was eating away at me.”
Father Kelly even broke down in tears in front of his dance partner Kylee Vincent, who helped to comfort him. He said: “I looked at her and tears started coming and I said: ‘Kylee, I can’t do it anymore, we need to talk’.”
However, thankfully Father Kelly was able to put the unpleasant phone call and online abuse behind him and continued to perform every week on the show.
He was eventually eliminated after ten weeks but was delighted with the overall response he has received from the public.
He said: “I think they love me, they love the smile, they love the way I dance which isn’t great, it’s an entertainment show as well as a dance show and I think I just gave that little bit of entertainment.”