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:


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