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Willie and his brother Joe (now a Capuchin monk) were students of Martin Mulvihill. Willie is a devotee of the old-time style of fiddlers from east Galway and east Clare and formed a musical partnership with flute player Mike Rafferty. With Mike , he made the recording The New Broom. Willie and his wife Siobhán, a flute player from east Clare, have raised a large musical family and taught students young and old in New Jersey and at the Catskills Irish Arts Week.

Blarney Star group, 2001 [Back row: Willie Kelly ; Antóin Mac Gabhann ; Martin Reilly Jnr ; Mick Moloney ; Marie Reilly ; Brian Holleran ; Linda Hickman ; Dermot Grogan ; Felix Dolan ; Joe Madden ; James Keane ; Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin. Front row: Mick O'Brien ; Don Meade ; Mike Rafferty ; Mike Preston ; Martin Mulhaire ; Patrick Ourceau. Photo taken at an event to honour Mike Preston] / Paul Keating