Dingle plays host to glittering array of musical talent

‘Other Voices’ grows into one of the most acclaimed occasions in the music calendar

Lisa O’ Neill and band perform in Dingle

Lisa O’ Neill and band perform in Dingle

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 22:43

There’s a reason Other Voices earns annual superlatives. It’s one of the greatest “music festivals that isn’t a music festival” in the world.

Every winter for more than a decade, Dingle has hosted a stunning gathering of music with some of the biggest and best artists in the world playing tiny gigs for a television show.

On Thursday night, Dingle was getting its bearings, with multimillion-selling singer- songwriter David Gray and his new touring buddy, Cavan musician Lisa O’Neill, popping into Foxy Johns pub, and the town was gearing up for a frantic weekend.

Yesterday, Gray, O’Neill, Irish act Hozier and Grammy- winning American folk artist Patti Griffin stepped on to the altar stage.

Tonight, Chicago musician Willis Earl Beal, a breaking English artist Lulu James (21) and iconic Scottish post-rockers Mogwai will fill the church.

Tomorrow night the church gigs close with composer David Arnold, Danish musician Agnes Obel and critically acclaimed American singer-songwriter John Grant.

You would probably have as much luck panning for gold in the rock pools on Coumeenoole beach as trying to blag a ticket for St James’s Church, where the main gigs happen. This year all the tickets are being given way and the pews of the church are packed with the lucky few. Throughout the town, though, a music trail of free gigs bursts with new talent.

Foxy Johns is also hosting “Banter” all weekend, a series of talks hosted by Irish Times journalist Jim Carroll, which has been providing enlightening sessions across the Irish festival calendar.

That kicked off yesterday with David Gray. Alice Maher, Eimear McBride, John Grant and the actor Jack Reynor fill out the weekend’s schedule.

A dedicated crew, a town in solidarity, gig pilgrims streaming towards An Daingean, and the sheer joy and determination expressed by Philip King, Aoife Woodlock, Tina Moran and the rest of the Other Voices crew at pulling off what they do, gives the event the feeling of a labour of love.

RTÉ will broadcast the concert footage in the new year, presented by the actor Aidan Gillen.

But Other Voices has become bigger than a national television spot. This year it expanded to Derry and London. The word is getting out – after a decade, Other Voices has become an overnight success. There is nowhere else in the world a music fan would want to be this weekend.