Posted by: Our Kerry | February 15, 2015

Other Voices Music Festival Dingle

Thanks to Gemma Lougheed for sending me this account of her first experience of Other Voices

Music Festival, Dingle, Co. Kerry.

Intimate, mellow, friendly magical and special. These are the words that come to mind when I think back to Other Voices, held in the second weekend, last December.

Only ten more months to wait until the next one.

Other Voices was a treat. A magical treat. I was there for barely twenty four hours (out of a possible three days), but the experience remains a stand-out highlight of my year.

Part of me wants to keep it all to myself. Too many people know about it already and the more that get involved, the more the magic might melt away for me. But that’s just selfish.

So here goes…

In the days leading up to Other Voices, I dedicated heaps of my energy into winning tickets. Unsuccessfully. As it turned out, not having a ticket is not a problem. It’s not even a snag. It’s a very minor detail indeed. Because you can’t buy tickets.

The Other Voices performances are held in the small, two hundred year old church on Dingle’s main drag: St. James’. With an eighty person capacity for three nights only, they prefer just to give away the tickets.

My friends and I rolled into town early Saturday afternoon and made a beeline for Foxy John’s. Half pub, half hardware-store. And headed straight through to the Banter Salon.

For nearly two hours I sat on a bar stool in front of a roaring fire. I sat on a bar stool and listened. I listened to talks on subjects I don’t usually have the time or inclination for.

The speakers I listened to were Bill Malone (Channel Controller RTE2) and Joe Caslin, a street artist who talked about his current project of installing large-scale portrait drawings of men at locations throughout Ireland, with the aim of helping young men to face up to mental health issues.

That afternoon, the Banter Salon was like a relaxing and intimate get-together in a friend’s sitting room, chatting about the world. A Parisian literary salon, Dingle style.

I could have easily stayed there all day and night and the Guinness looked soooo good (I was designated driver), but with more to see and do, I gave up my stool: time to hit the Music Trail.

Up the Main Street we headed, with gentle Christmas music floating out of the loudspeakers on the fairy light lit (yes!) streets of Dingle, to see the Lost Brothers in An Diseart in what turned out to be an almost religious experience. In a small chapel, with the charming (Harry Clarke) stained glass windows lit up, I stood huddled in the doorway (no bar stool this time) and heard an hour long intimate set from two men and two guitars, no amplifiers. Two men and two guitars played songs of deeply emotional character. Check them out.

On to Dick Macks pub, chill out time and fireside chats with some locals before watching Ciaran Lavery perform atop a table. This alt-folk troubadour had, that day, travelled six hours from County Armagh to play an acoustic set for an audience of no more than twenty acolytes. His performance was hairs on the back of your neck stand up sort of stuff.

And then it was nearly time for (the ACTUAL) Other Voices. We set up camp in Benners Hotel, whose faded carpets and old world charm had me looking around to see if Miss. Marple had snagged a better seat than I had.

In fact it, this oldy world venue, had been invaded by RTE technicians fiddling with large screens and cables, as well as the artists themselves and the good people of Dingle along with blow-ins, like myself, soaking up the vibe. Atists and audience members were chilling out at the bar, in the lobby, in the function rooms, and many of the audience were sitting on the floor and stairs. Anywhere with a view of the action. Performers walked in and out, just across the road to St. James to perform (streamed live on RTE TV) to excited applause from everyone in Benners. Other Voices attracts a super friendly, honest and laid back crowd.

The whole show was awesome. A stand out performance came from Damien Rice, whose performance silenced all of Dingle. Or at least, you could hear a pin drop in Benners.

Musicians play a show in the church, but they also gig around the town, free of charge.

Not quite ready for home, we needed more. So caught The Delorentos give a really energetic show in the beer garden of An Chonair: atmosphere was electric and we left on a high.

As we got in car, I was kinda regretful not be carrying on the merrymaking. Knowing full well Dingle wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon. But thinking about it homeward bound, in the middle of the night, I was so grateful to catch what I did.

I could say I whole bunch more on Dingle itself, the charming and welcoming town that facilitates the magic, but that’s for another post.

So yeah, in summary, you don’t need a ticket, you just need to get yourself there. All roads lead to Dingle in December 2015.

See you there.


This was just my experience of one afternoon & evening at Other Voices.

Here’s what others thought:

Posted by: Our Kerry | July 14, 2013

Inch – The Surfer’s Paradise


The Road to Inch


Kerry is well known for it’s fantastic surfing beaches.  One of the most impressive of these is Inch. In this Blog we catch up with Francesco Ferlisis, an Italian native who has been living and working in Kerry and Dublin since 2005. A keen surfer here’s what he has to say about the surfing and social scene in Inch.


Sunday 7th July 2013

Surfing in Inch Beach

I have been down to Inch Beach in the Dingle Peninsula on a glorious sunny and warm day.


Inch Beach July 2013

The 5km beach is probably amongst the most beautiful places in the Emerald Island, featuring a stunning view of of the Ring of Kerry mountains which are just in front.

There are at least 2 surf schools offering soft boards rental(approx €7)  and the little shop beside the only bar on the beach offers rental for BIC boards too (not in excellent conditions but at very reasonable price – approx €10). A public toilet and lifeguard on site do complete the beach services.

The swell of 5 foot and 11 seconds period maintained its promises and waves were very longboard friendly until midday. The spot just in front of the restaurant was pretty busy both with surfers and innocent swimmer but the session was definitely a passed mark! In winter times swells can be much stronger and a more experienced crowd will show up.


Inch Beach

The steamed mussels and thick cakes of the bar are an excellent reward after the time spent in the water!!!

This place is a must-go, must-see, must-experience.


A native of Inch


Enjoy a Sheep’s Welcome on the approach to Inch!


All Photo Credits:  Francesco Ferlisis

Posted by: Our Kerry | June 23, 2013

Derrynane House & The Morpeth Scrolls

Here’s my first Guest Blog courtesy of Joe O Sullivan … a recent visitor to beautiful Derrynane


Derrynane Bay



On view at Derrynane House until the end of June , the ” Morpeth Scrolls” should not be missed if you are anywhere in the vicinity.

Morpeth was High Commissioner in Ireland at the time of Daniel O’Connell’s campaign and was very supportive.
By way of thanks ,after Emancipation had been achieved and Morpeth was returning to England , a ‘ thank you’ petition was circulated throughout the country. It was signed by more than 160,000 people ( the local clergy signed on behalf of the many illiterates !) . The  Scrolls run to about 420 metres.


Visit and read, hear and see the displays , visual and audio before they move on to Dublin.

Derrynane House

Derrynane House

Much more to do and see at the house which will close for refurbishment after the summer season. The Board of Works are taking responsibility for this so I encourage you to visit soon!!


Gardens at Derrynane

The House is a ‘ must ‘ for anyone interested in that period of our history and the gardens are oases of tranquility and beauty


Fairy Houses at Derrynane!

Posted by: Our Kerry | June 15, 2013

Valentia – on the edge of Europe!


View from the Slate Quarry

“So, who are your competitors?” asked the advertising professional from L.A. of the owner of Valentia Island Car Ferry

“A bridge!” answered the man from Valentia Island Car Ferry

(the Maurice O Neill Memorial Bridge to be exact!)

Yes, there are two ways to get to Valentia Island –  a car ferry from Renard Point, Cahersiveen (you can detour to the Skellig Chocolate Factory en route) or by road, over the bridge from Portmagee. I suggest trying both out – take the ferry over and drive around the island and back over to the mainland by road!  The ferry costs about €6 one way and it’s just a short hop – they take walk on passengers too.


View from the Observatory

Valentia Island sits at the very edge of Europe – next stop the USA! It is a place of real beauty with a kind of magical quality.  Arriving off the ferry you come in to Knightstown  – there is a feeling of grandeur and status about the place – it’s like a scene from a  Jane Austen book!  There’s plenty of see and do in Valentia in spite of its tiny size.  The world famous Valentia Slate Quarry, owned by the Lynes, has supplied slate to places like the Houses of Parliament in London. You can also see it on the reception floor of Radio Kerry in Tralee and they now do a range of gifts as well! Valentia Island was the base of the very first attempts at the Atlantic cable laying in 1857 and 1858, and of the successful expedition of 1866, and is the location of the oldest Atlantic cable stations in the world. For more info see this web page Atlantic Cable  And you can go diving, whale watching and sailing if any of these water based activities appeal.


The Dwelling House

If you are a walker then take a walk up Geokaun (pronounced locally as Yo-Cawn) mountain and Fogher Cliffs, out to the Lighthouse or out to the now decommissioned Weather Observatory. You can also see the fossilized Tetrapod (a really ancient vertebrate) tracks which were discovered by a geology student in the early 1990s. After all that activity you’ll probably want to take a rest and I really recommend The Dwelling House. They offer a lovely menu and inside it’s lovely and quirky with a cosy feel in a warren of rooms.


The Enchanted garden

On a sunny day there is a gorgeous enclosed courtyard with  lots of nooks and crannies to enjoy all fresco dining – it’s called The Enchanted Garden and it’s everything it promises with explosions of color everywhere you look.  The coffee is tasty and they do a mean chocolate fudge cake!


Watch the World Go By

If you prefer people watching then you can always sit out front and watch the world go by!  It’s a particularly good spot at Festival time and Valentia has a couple of those! The King Scallop Festival (July 13th & 14th in 2013) and in 2012 they introduced a Music Festival which drew big crowds of all ages who’s spirits didn’t appear to be dampened any bit by the inclement weather  – the Hunter wellies were out in force!  This year it’s on September 13th to 15th – clearly they like to do things mid month in Valentia 😉

 Valentia Island – one visit will leave you wanting more!

Posted by: Our Kerry | June 4, 2013

Skellig Rock (Skellig Michael or Great Skellig)


View from Skellig Rock

There are not too many days on the Kerry Weather Calendar that are suitable for a trip to Skellig Island but you might find one this week if the weather forecast for the coming days holds up.

I visited Skellig in April 2010 with a group of friends, one of whom was celebrating her 40th birthday and had decided that she wanted to celebrate on top of Skellig Rock!

The weather could not have been more perfect for our trip.  The water was like a just shined mirror as we left our Portmagee dock for the journey to  Skellig. My memory of the journey was lots of laughter and lots of beautiful frothy wake. Once you arrive and disembark from the boat the climb doesn’t look so bad but believe me it is not for the feint hearted and especially not for anyone unsteady on their pins and certainly not for anyone who suffers from vertigo!

The initial few steps you have to climb are a bit scary.  In 2010 there was no railing – this may have changed since.  The terrain is well traveled but I advise ascending and descending sideways, as a crab would – if a crab had a notion to climb Skellig that is of course!

Skellig is renowned as a favoured habitat of the Puffin who nestle in the rock face … it was a bit early in the year so they were quite scarce that day but now is probably a better time to see them.

As you can see in the photograph there are lots of stone walls that demarcate the early monastic settlement on Skellig and further up again you will come across the community of Beehive Huts. Be sure to go inside and soak in the peace that the monks must have experienced there.

Further up from the huts a tricky climb leads you a plateau from where you literally have a 365 degree view of the ocean, the other rock stacks and the mainland – it is a truly spectacular sight and one I am very glad I have had the pleasure to witness.  It is here that we unpacked our picnic and popped the champagne corks to toast both the big occasion of our friend and the majestic magnificence of this extraordinary place.

Many Kerry natives have never made it to Skellig and if you are one of those people please try to make time to do it soon. It is a fantastic experience, one that will stay with you long after you have set foot back on the mainland again.

Recount the memories over a coffee or a drink outside the Bridge Bar in Portmagee looking out to Skellig an Valentia Islands!

Boat trip info :

Posted by: Our Kerry | June 2, 2013

Supreme Seaweed

In Ballybunion, my home town, the Seaweed Bath has been the salvation, the cure and the escape – reviving, invigorating and relaxing all ages for decades!


Collins Baths

I love a seaweed bath nowadays, but this was not always the case!  The first, and let’s face it most problematic, issue was my fear of seaweed!  I mean really who knew what might be in it –  after all it was picked right off the rocks that morning!   No, I would get in the bath alright but there must be no trace of seaweed! So, after the oils had been released from the seaweed by the warm sea water cascading from the taps, Seamus or his son Gary, would gallantly remove the seaweed before I dipped my toe in the water !!  Gradually I grew up and now it simply makes no sense to have a seaweed bath without … well seaweed!

Simply put it is one the most exhilarating experiences you will ever enjoy and it’s especially fabulous if you are feeling tired, run down or even hungover.  There are 5 individual and private baths where you can lie back and luxuriate in beautifully gloopy oils, wrapping the seaweed around you to make the most of its goodness.  The baths are filled with the piping hot sea water which which helps to release the oils from the seaweed and which can be topped up regularly.  While you are lying in the bath you can hear the laughter of the children on the beach, take in the lovely fresh air smells and if the tide is in you can hear the ocean too – though if you prefer to pop on your iPod go right ahead. Ideally once you’ve enjoyed your bath you should don your swimming attire and run into the Atlantic (ocean – the nightclub is no longer open!)  to close your pores and seal in the goodness of the oils!  I haven’t graduated to that in the past 20 years but there are plenty of people who are not slow adopters like me!



The Seaweed baths are located on the Ladies Beach in Ballybunion run by the Mulvihill Family, dad Seamus, his daughter Clare and son Gary.  Seamus, his trusty tractor and red setter Sam set out daily at low tide to gather the seaweed from the Blackrocks – it’s not just any old seaweed but I’m not sure exactly what type it is either!  Clean towels are provided and they always have that lovely combined fabric softener and fresh air smell! The only request made of you is to drain your bath while dressing!

Don’t deprive yourself any longer … be brave … try a Collin’s Seaweed bath ASAP – open from June to October!

Posted by: Our Kerry | June 2, 2013

Muckross House & Gardens


Muckross House

On a recent trip to Killarney with a friend we drove out to Muckross House and Gardens. When we got to the house I suggested that we be tourists for the day and take the guided tour. It had been over 30 years since I’d last set foot inside the house and my sole memory was of  the “Children’s Room”.

The adult tour price is a reasonably modest €7.50. Armed with our tickets we were dispatched to the waiting area, which contains a display of about 7 backdrops all detailing the visit of Queen Victoria to Killarney in the 1800s and is printed in both English and as gaeilge.   There were approximately 40 people in our group with many countries and languages represented. We were asked not to take any photographs or video in the house so you will have to visit for the visuals!

The guide was quite informative though I did feel that after the initial gathering in the main foyer of the house the rest of the tour was a bit rushed and she didn’t always wait until everyone was gathered in a common area before she gave the account of what we were about to see so I felt that we may have missed some of the details. Also if you are hard of hearing or not a fluent english speaker you may find it difficult to follow.  It’s worth checking out if they have audio in other languages and if it’s possible to visit on your own without the english speaking guide.

With over 60 rooms the house is impressive and you do get a feel for how they might have lived in times past.   Naturally in the interest of preservation and the comfort of the visitor modern day climate control systems, storage heating and electric lighting are all necessary additions to the interior. Conservation work is currently being carried out to the windows.  The Children’s Room was not as impressive as I had remembered though in truth I expect that it has not changed at all but just seemed different viewed though adult eyes.  And although you are asked not to touch any of the furniture or fittings you can go up close to take a good look! The room I was most intrigued by was the kitchen – it was here that I felt a real sense of history – perhaps I was a kitchen hand or scullery maid in a former life!


Colourful Cafe Flowerbed


Vibrant Garden Colour

If you are making a trip to Muckross then a guided tour of the house is a nice and interesting way to pass an hour which is approximately how long it takes to see the tour through.  I recommend visiting early in the day when the guide is fresh and you are not too conscious of the main gates closing.  You can also follow up with a stroll around the extensive and very beautifully kept gardens and woodlands.  There is also a nice restaurant and cafe with the option of out side seating in the gardens, weather permitting.

Posted by: Our Kerry | May 28, 2013

Our Kerry – sharing the magic!

County Kerry is nestled in the South West of Ireland on the very edge of Europe! It is an area of much historic, geographic, demographic, sporting and cultural interest and prowess.

Sunset over Tralee Wetlands

Sunset over Tralee Wetlands


For all these reasons in 2012 I set up a Facebook page called Our Kerry to help share the magical place that I call home … County Kerry, also   known as The Kingdom!  By and large the Facebook page is a selection of photographs and videos taken in the county both by myself and shared from a selection of likeminded people and professional photographers.  They show the diversity of the landscape and offer ideas of what to expect when you visit.  Occasionally I share details of festivals or events in Kerry which I feel may be of interest both to the natives and visitors alike.

In the coming weeks and months I hope to bring you little accounts of my travels through Kerry with some local knowledge tips and ideas.  As a native of Ballybunion you will probably find that it features fairly frequently but I will endeavour to ensure it does not take over! From time to time I will also include guest posts from other people about their experiences in the county. And of course interspersed in all of this more photos and videos to showcase this heavenly place!

I hope that you enjoy browsing through the blog and of course your feedback is very much appreciated!



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