Paddy Kelly is a man of many talents. Not only does he have a wonderful voice, but he plays a number of instruments. Paddy was born and raised in Ottawa and began playing traditional music at an early age. His father introduced Pat to traditional music and song. His father played with Jug O’ Punch and The Celts who played at the Atlantic Hotel on occasion. Paddy’s first professional group was The Descendants (not related to the current Irish Descendants) and was introduced to Glengarry through their working engagements at The Grand Hotel in Martintown and the Atlantic Hotel in Alexandria. They produced one album, which may even be found in this area today. Not long after his introduction to Glengarry did Paddy feel that this was the place to be.
1982 was a pivotal year. Not only did he marry a Glengarry lass, but he also joined The Brigadoons and was with them for fifteen years, until 1997. Through this time, he has played along the Eastern seaboard of the United States and down as far as Florida and has always remarked how special a place Glengarry was. But he favoured playing for the local crowd, at the Bonnie Glen for weddings, at parties and of course, some of the favourite watering holes we all know well (like Bob’s in Dalhousie not to mention the famous Glengarry Club of Ottawa dances.) While Paddy was with The Brigadoons, they produced approximately 7 or 8 albums and later a couple of CDs.
Paddy moved to Glengarry in 1985 and currently lives in St. Elmo with his family who are all musically inclined. His wife, Donna Kemp, was a MacCulloch dancer and she, like Paddy, was raised with a musical background. Their daughter, Lindsay, is following the footsteps of her mother. She currently dances with the MacCulloch Dancers and also takes piano lessons from Ashley MacLeod for Scottish Fiddle Accompaniment.
Over the past several years, as his sons were involved with the Glengarry Pipe Band, Paddy has served on the board of directors with his last post being vice-president. He currently is a director on the Glengarry Highland Games committee, where he runs the Friday afternoon music program which promotes local Glengarry Celtic talent.
Paddy has long supported start up groups with encouragement and always lent what advice he could give when requested. He has also been involved with musical presentations at the Maxville Public School in Maxville.
Throughout the years, Paddy, both individually and with The Brigadoons, has entertained for the elderly at various seniors’ residences in Maxville, Alexandria, Lancaster and at Glen Stor Dun Lodge in Cornwall.
Having spent almost half his life in Glengarry county, Paddy certainly considers himself a true Glengarrian (of the Irish kind). He continues to sing and play the Scots and Irish music that has made Glengarry a special place.
For more information on Paddy Kelly, visit his website.