In December the winter is upon us. The County has become quieter, everyone is preparing for Christmas and when it arrives the quiet weeks are no longer.
December / Mí na Nollaig
Other Voices: Friday 7th – Sunday 9th. The secret Irish festival where rock's finest mix with fishermen will be back in its home town of Dingle. It will be around the last week-end in November and early December.
year either at the end of November or early December “Unbelievable Rock” play
the Other Voices festival in Ireland - and you can watch the gig, live and for
free, on guardian.co.uk/music.
The festival is now 14 years old, and has a history of attracting the some of the biggest names in music. But what makes them want to play in a tiny church in Dingle?
If you haven't heard of the Irish music festival Other Voices then you're not alone. Outside Ireland, the festival, based in Dingle, County Kerry remains something of a best-kept secret, yet within the music industry it's a crucial event to perform at.
The gigs, for instance, take place in a tiny 200-year-old church seating (at a squeeze) 80 people. The festival is also of the low-key kind, where world-famous stars such as Rufus Wainwright, Florence Welch and Jarvis Cocker, along with the Next Big Things, saunter along streets rubbing shoulders with fishermen as well as fans.
You could use big words to describe it, for sure," says Richard Hawley (who has performed there three times) of the Other Voices experience, "but there's something about the festival that is beyond description. The organisers don't make a great deal of money out of it, yet to do something that has value and worth is marvellous."
At the heart of the Other Voices experience are a few crucial elements: the first is what Hawley would rightly claim is its intimacy. As Damien Rice, who performed there in 2002 and 2006, says: "Money doesn't make me happy; success doesn't make me happy. What makes it, for me, is walking on stage wanting to be there, starting a song and getting lost in it. Playing Other Voices felt honestly emotional and reminded me of the recording sessions I had for O. It was one of those nights where everything gelled. "
The second element is that it's an event where no PAs, minders or clipboard fascists hold any authority whatsoever. You can see stars drift into relaxation mode as they arrive at a town that doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word frantic.
It also helps that Dingle is a reminder of Ireland's charm. Tucked away in the extreme south-west of the country, the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) town has a population of around 2,000, which means it's small enough that everyone knows your business, but self-contained enough not to bother with anyone displaying airs or graces.
Not for nothing has the town been described (by National Geographic) as "the most beautiful place on Earth". But Dingle is also home to some of the oddest hostelries imaginable.
"I couldn't believe Foxy John's when I first saw it," recalls Hawley of the shop/bar. "I was so grateful that there was, finally, somewhere that I could buy light bulbs, rat poison and Guinness.
Dingle seems to be one of the last places that has kept a truly Irish generosity of spirit. For all the musicians that come here, it's like a hospital for the soul. It's a bit daft to say so much about something so simple. If you were here, you'd know."
The festival began as Other Voices: Songs From a Room. It gathered together in the town's St James's church a group of Irish musicians and singer-songwriters that had chosen to negotiate their own path through the minefield of the music industry.
Remember - you don't need a ticket for the Music Trail. All gigs are free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis! Schedules can be collected from the Other Voices Hub on 12 Main Street, Dingle from Thursday 3rd of December.
COMPETITION: To be in with a chance to win 2 X Saturday Tickets to St. James' Church all you have to do is tweet.
Here is some of this years artists:
Dingle Santa Fun Run
Sunday 18th December 2016 (Probably)
The Dingle Santa Fun Run organised by Cumann Rámhaíochta Chorca Dhuibhne gets underway on Sunday December 20th.
THE reds will be out in force in Dingle on Sunday December 20th as young and old don their Daidí na Nollag outfits to take part in the Santa 5km Fun Run and Walk which is hosted in aid of Cumann Ramhaíochta Chorca Dhuibhne and Cumann Rothaíochta Chorca Dhuibhne.
Despite wind, rain, shining sun, hail showers and the odd crack of thunder the Santas begin to gather at Dingle Marina at around 2 p.m. and to any onlookers it makes some sight. There are always a large variety of Santas present on the day - ranging in ages and abilities - but everyone puts their best foot forward as the starter puts them under starters' orders.
Some, such as local Iron Man competitor Jason Courtney and members of West Kerry Fitness, take the 5km in their stride, while others, take their time in completing the course which takes in Dingle Town and a round of the Marina.
There is a great atmosphere at the event. Registration for the event will open at 1pm in the Marina Centre Meeting Room. Participants may run, jog, trot or just walk the course on the day!
Santa Suits, and hats, will be available on the day and all funds raised will go towards local charities. For more info
Or call: 0876992925/0864011083
Wren`s Day Dingle
Monday 26th December 2016
You might think St. Stephen's Day, December 26th, is a day to sleep in, maybe work of the excesses of the day before, hide from the mountains of Christmas wrapping paper, and avoid the remnants of the Christmas turkey.
Not so if you live in Dingle, County Kerry, a town visited by tourists in summer, but which recaptures its quiet, remote feeling in the winter months. Here, the people wake early, and by 6 a.m. are on the streets in straw costumes and fancy dress, parading about waving banners to announce The Wren (pronounced "wran") Day.
This is done to the accompaniment of lively Irish music, played by parades with tin whistles and accordions. On Wren Day, no one sleeps late in Dingle town.
The popularity of the Wren Day celebration waned greatly in the early 1990's. But in the last few years, young people in Dingle have shown great interest in its continuation, and a new sense of life has been injected into the event.
The day, called La an Dreoilin (the day of
the wren) was once practiced throughout Ireland. Groups of disguised musicians
and dancers went from door to door, or from pub to pub, collecting money or
offerings of food. On a bush decorated with ribbons (preferably a holly bush),
they hung the wren or wrens that had been hunted and killed earlier that day
reciting a rhyme that began:
The wran, the wran
the king of all birds
On Stephen's Day
was caught in the furze
If no offerings were forthcoming at a house, there was a danger that the wren would be buried outside the hall-door, which was taken to bring bad luck for the next 12 months. More commonly, the wren was buried with a penny at the end of the day's festivities (the rest of the money collected went to buying drink).
The little wren was the selected victim because of a belief that this bird betrayed a group of Irish soldiers by perching and tapping on their drums as they approached part of Cromwell's army. Alerted to their presence, Cromwell's men massacred them all. For this, the bird is to be punished ever after. Thankfully, nowadays an imitation is used in place of a real bird.
How about the New Year, where are you going to celebrate it this year?
A great place to be on New Years night is Portmagee.
I went to Portmagee on New Year's Eve one year to watch a 400 year old festival in which the Old Year, in human form, is escorted up and down the main street by torch-bearing acolytes before being shot dead (figuratively) to be replaced a singing, tuxed, New Year.