Noel Kelehan

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Noel Kelehan (26 December 1935 – 6 February 2012) was an Irish musician, former conductor of the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and former musical director of Radio Telefís Éireann. He retired as conductor in 1998.

Life and career[edit]

As well as being an accomplished jazz pianist, he was most famous for being the conductor of many Irish entries to the Eurovision Song Contest, beginning in 1966 and ending in 1998. He conducted five winning Irish entries, in 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, and 1996. In 1994, the winning song was performed without orchestral accompaniment. However, an entry rated second that year, "To nie ja!" performed by Edyta Górniak from Poland, was also conducted by Kelehan. He also conducted entry from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993. In total, Kelehan conducted 29 Eurovision entries, 24 of them Irish. In 1999, after Kelehan retired, the use of an orchestra was discontinued at the Contest.

He died at the age of 76, in Dublin on 6 February 2012, after a long illness.[1] His funeral took place in Dublin on 9 February 2012.[2]

Performance credits[edit]

Kelehan had several records to his credit; most notably, with the Noel Kelehan Quintet he recorded the album "Ozone" in 1979. In 1984 he wrote the string arrangements for U2's album The Unforgettable Fire.[3][4]


  1. ^ "Irish conductor Noel Kelehan has died at 76", 6 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Funeral of Noel Kelehan takes place", RTÉ Ten, 9 February 2012.
  3. ^ Biography of Noel Kelehan,
  4. ^ Interview with Noel Kelehan, published in EA-Nieuws (magazine of, 2007–2008, no. 2
Preceded by
Netherlands Rogier van Otterloo
Eurovision Song Contest conductor
Succeeded by
United Kingdom Ronnie Hazlehurst
Preceded by
Belgium Jo Carlier
Eurovision Song Contest conductor
Succeeded by
Switzerland Benoit Kaufman
Preceded by
Sweden Anders Berglund
Eurovision Song Contest conductor
Succeeded by
Norway Frode Thingnæs