Page last updated at 06:36 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 07:36 UK

NI priests hoping to top the pops


The priests singing at the altar

Three Catholic priests from Northern Ireland are getting ready to take the music world by storm after signing a 1m record deal.

Father Eugene O'Hagan, 48, his brother Martin, 45, and David Delargy, 44, all have parishes in the diocese of Down and Connor.

The singing trio, known as The Priests, signed the deal with music giant Sony BMG at London's Westminster Cathedral.

Any money the priests make from the group will be given to charity.

The group have a special exemption in their contract, which allows them to break off from promotional duties to deal with parish work such as presiding over funerals.

Parish work

The three realised their musical prowess as students at St MacNissi's College in County Antrim, where they were nicknamed 'Holy, Holy, Holy' due to their shared determination to enter the priesthood.

Fr Eugene said that what had happened may be "God's design". He said that the money that the priests make will go to various charities but "we haven't decided which".

"There is a real feeling of excitement and apprehension," he said. Fr Martin said that it was important that the record deal still allowed the men to carry out their parish duties.

"Our work means a great deal to us," he said.

"We are priests first and foremost. Our work will be at the heart of our plans."

Fr David added: "Singing is very much what we do.

"This is bringing it to a wider audience. We are singing sacred music, continuing what we have always been doing."

Fr Eugene said the group's musical tastes were influenced by their religion

"We have very Catholic tastes," he said, adding that he liked quartet Il Divo.

However, Fr David said his musical taste was slightly more eclectic

"My first ever purchase was Blondie - Parallel Lines," he said.

They're going to be wonderful global superstars
Nick Raphael

The priests all attended The Seminary in Belfast and concluded their training at the Irish College in Rome, before returning to work in Northern Ireland.

Last year, they were heard singing by an Irish pop musician who asked them to make a demo which he took to Sony BMG.

Nick Raphael, managing director of Epic Records, part of Sony BMG, negotiated the signing.

"Their voices are incredible," he said.

"I think we've found three pop stars.

"They're going to be wonderful global superstars. The reaction has been incredible, huge.

"The quality of their singing is quite scary."

The priests' forthcoming record, which they said is as yet un-named, is planned for release around November time.

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