The Outer Banks Voice – From Kiltealy Village to World Fame


From the world famous village of Kiltealy

By Kip Tabb | Outer Banks Voice April 30, 2022

Famous Irish tenor Anthony Kearns performs here on May Day

Anthony Kearns.

Anthony Kearns is one of the greatest Irish tenors in the world. It is not a self-assigned title; rather it has been his since winning “Ireland’s Search for a Tenor” in 1993, a competition created to celebrate the issue of a new ten – the Irish ten pound note.

On Sunday, May 1, Kearns will bring the art of her voice to the Outer Banks, performing at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Nags Head at 4:00 p.m.

It’s been quite a journey from Kiltealy, County Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland where he grew up, to international fame. Kiltealy is a small community which Kearns says doesn’t even quite qualify as a town.

“I would say there were no more than 650 or 700 people in a small village really,” he recalled during an interview with Voice this week. “The nearest town was 10 miles away.”

It was perhaps surprising that he won the 1993 competition. He was the only finalist who was not classically trained, although he received early training in music and voice.

“What you call high school or American high school, 12 to 17 – that’s where I was introduced to more…classic crossover, Broadway and stuff like that,” he explained.

Kearns was not an overnight sensation, however. His ‘Searching for a Tenor’ win came when he was 23, and he was already working in ‘the real world’, with a job in hotel management. What the award allowed him to do was begin the arduous classical vocal training that would allow him to deepen what he was playing and strengthen his voice.

It took another five years before it was catapulted to international recognition. In 1998, while the Irish theatrical performance river dance was at its height in the United States, the producers of PBS, wanting to take advantage of this popularity, created the Irish Tenors. In 1999, the trio made their American television debut with Irish tenors: live in Dublin.

Irish tenors continue to tour and perform, despite having to take time off during COVID. Kearns, however, will be back with Ronan Tynan and Declan Kelly later this year. “Our next trip is in July…to Chicago, Illinois…We haven’t stopped since 1998,” he said. “We work our whole career around that, the tour dates.”

One of the characteristics of his music and the music of the Irish tenors that sets them apart is the arrangements. It is not simple music with basic chords. These are full orchestral arrangements, created by some of the best musicians in the world. Some of the arrangements performed by Irish tenors, Kearns notes, were created by David Cullen, who arranged The Phantom of the Opera for Andrew Lloyd Weber.

Many arrangements for Kearns’ solo performances were entrusted to him by Frank Patterson’s widow. Patterson, sometimes referred to as Ireland’s Golden Tenor, died in 2000.

“His widow left me her entire library. She said she wanted it to go into good hands and put it to good use. And that’s what I do,” Kearns said.

Kearns is particularly proud of his singing skills and the ability of Irish tenors to perform music as it is meant to be presented.

“I see people going out and performing with backing tracks and we’re always playing with a full orchestra and that’s the beauty we have,” he said.

Kearns has expanded her repertoire to include opera. Her operatic performances include leading roles in Don Giovanni, FaustCarmen and other shows. “There’s nothing I love more than working on the opera stage, if you can commit your time,” he said. “Opera takes a long time to learn and rehearse.”

During his tours of the United States, Kearns was occasionally invited to perform at several veteran events. It has become a cause that he considers particularly important.

“The freedom that we all have, especially in the world we live in today, is so disrupted with more wars, it’s just that it’s good to know that people are watching over you, so you can sleeping in your bed at night and getting up in the morning, you can never forget that,” he says.

Big cities and big venues aren’t the only places Kearns likes to perform. Small towns that are often miles away from a big city hold a special place for it.

“We tend to be on the east coast or in big cities, but I did a few trips years ago and really enjoyed the smaller towns,” he said. “I would like to go back there and meet people on the ground. The people are just fabulous. I think I appreciate that more than anything else.

The Anthony Kearns show is sponsored by the Bryan Cultural Series. Tickets for the event are $15.00 and are available online at brown paper bag. Tickets are also available locally at Gray’s Department Store in Kitty Hawk, Sea Green Gallery, Nags Head and Downtown Books, Manteo.


Dare County, North Carolina
Dare County Visitor Center
The draft budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022 and ending June 30, 2023 was submitted to the Dare County Tourism Board on April 28, 2022.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the public hearing will be conducted by the Dare County Tourism Board on the proposed budget to 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, May 19, 2022. the
The meeting will be held at the Sarah Owens Welcome Center on Roanoke Island, One Visitors Center Circle, Manteo, NC 27954.

All interested persons are invited to make written or oral comments at this time.
Copies of the proposed budget are available for public viewing online at

and at the

Outer Banks Visitor Center on Roanoke Island
One Visitors Center Circle, Manteo, North Carolina

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