'I have to bring happiness into people's lives': Cork's Fr Kevin on his TikTok stardom

Fr Kevin: "I don’t actually know anything about TikTok at all."
'I have to bring happiness into people's lives': Cork's Fr Kevin on his TikTok stardom
A screenshot from Fr Kevin Kiernan's TikTok account which shows the St Finbarr’s Hospital chaplain and Vera McGrath

A Cork priest is making unlikely waves on social media as his light-hearted TikTok videos whip up a viral storm.

Fr Kevin Kiernan, a chaplain at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork city, started producing the short videos with his friend Vera McGrath in order to send them to his nieces, who are fond of the app.

The videos have since gone viral, racking up hundreds of thousands of views and being shared across the globe.

“I don’t actually know anything about TikTok at all,” Fr Kevin explained. 

I have a sister who has six children, and they would all be doing these TikToks and they would be asking me to TikToks with them, so that’s how I started.

“There is too much doom and gloom. The object is bringing a smile to peoples faces. And just bringing a bit of joy. You should see the residents here. I show them the TikToks and they are in stitches laughing. It’s just bringing a bit of happiness to people."

Fr Kevin said the videos have become a hit with people of all ages.

“When we had the church open, you had people in their 70s and 80s and saying to me "that’s a great a TikTok you had there father", and they’re delighted. So, it's just bringing people together."

Screenshot from Cork's Fr Kevin Kiernan AKA TIKTOK Priest. See his tiktok page 'thveebag' run by Vera McGrath
Screenshot from Cork's Fr Kevin Kiernan AKA TIKTOK Priest. See his tiktok page 'thveebag' run by Vera McGrath

He believes it is part of his role, as a priest, to bring joy to peoples lives.

“I'm not one for going on television or being on the newspaper, but I am a fierce extrovert," he said.

"I love people, I bring energy to people and that's how I see myself as a priest. I have to bring a bit of happiness into peoples lives.” 

The days of Fr Kevin’s and Vera’s TikTok partnership could soon be coming to an end, though, as Fr Kevin prepares to move to Dublin after nearly 24 years in Cork.

However, Vera remains optimistic and said the duo will just make videos in bulk.

“She has people lined up in Dublin who will do it with me. And she says, oh we can do it bulk. Vera is very friendly and very good with the residents. She's actually just easy to talk to,” said Fr Kevin.

Vera explained how the pair started making the videos in the first place.

“How it all started was, he has nieces and nephews, would be of the TikTok generation. They were sending him TikToks and he wanted to send one back, so he asked for my help. 

"We did it and I had intended to delete TikTok after that. I had no interest in making them myself but it was a hit in the hospital, and it gave people great morale. 

It was mid-Covid, when things were negative, people just got a kick out of it.

“We had a great laugh making them. It was really good fun. And then it just blew up. Before we knew it, it was being shared everywhere, in the UK and America. It’s gone worldwide," Vera said.

Vera also explained how Fr Kevin is changing attitudes towards priests with his videos.

"We have a view of Catholic priests of being strict and sombre, but Fr Kevin is such good craic and is daft as a brush. He’s really good fun, and a massive hit in the hospital."

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