Goin' vinyl in Dingle - Nialler 9's How Music Works

In celebration of Record Store Day, Nialler9 talk to Mazz O'Flaherty, who runs the only record shop in Dingle - “the greatest smallest record shop in Ireland”

This Saturday is Record Store Day around the world, the annual celebration of the independent retailers who stock and sell vinyl records. Fans will flock to the shops to pick up some of the limited edition Record Store Day releases, they might watch a band do an in-store or pick up a discounted title.

The Dingle Record Shop in Kerry is one such outlet that will be participating in Record Store Day but in more of an unofficial capacity. The shop is run by Mazz O'Flaherty, a lady in her 60s who has been the enthusiastic music-loving proprietor behind the counter since the late 1970s. In the course a warm hour-long conversation, she has a habit of endearingly punctuating nearly every answer with "Now, Niall, don't quote me on that."

A keen musician herself since she was nine, Mazz was regularly in the record shop in Dingle buying new releases, until she received a proposition.

"The shop was run by a girl from Dublin and I was probably one of her best customers,” she remembers. “ I walked in one day and she told me she got a job in Dublin and would I like to take over the record shop and I said yes. I didn't think about it.”


She's been there ever since “clinging on to the cliff of reality".

Good initiative
On the record, Mazz plans to knock 20 per cent off all vinyl in the shop for Record Store Day Saturday, along with some three-for-€20 deals. She thinks Record Store Day is a good initiative, especially for small rural shops like hers.

“I think it brings people to the shop wherever they may be and reminds them that we are here,” she explains “I've noticed in the last three or so years that people have been looking for the records rather than CDs.”

Dingle Record Shop largely stocks traditional and music made by local musicians, as many of them aren't covered by a distribution company. There are at least a couple of releases by Mazz herself.

A sign on one of the racks sets out Mazz's main modus operandi for the shop. "Local musicians and their friends (and their friends) are our friends," it reads.  A row of releases marked as  “eclectic surprises” also isn't the kind of category you'd get on iTunes.

I ask Mazz is she a good salesperson?

“The word 'convincing' is a fair one to use in this case,” she answers. “You get an intuition about these things. I really care what people buy.”

On the map
The Dingle Record Shop exists opposite a church and under a pizza restaurant in that beautiful but isolated tourist town on the most westerly point of Ireland. Dingle is far from where most of the record industry lives, but with Other Voices happening there every year for the past 13, Dingle is on the map.

In Myles O'Reilly's video documentary about Mazz and the shop, in which he called it "the greatest smallest record shop in Ireland", O'Reilly bestowed her with the mantle of "the record industry in Dingle".

Local band Walking On Cars, who would have been shop regulars, are now signed to a major label in the UK. “I recorded the band in the shop back in 2011, and if you listen to that podcast now and they talk about their hopes and aspirations, basically all of them have come true,” Mazz says with pride.

A lot of musicians live in the town and visiting Dingle is on many touring musicians itineraries. Many of them drop into the shop as evidenced by the walls lined with signed albums, posters and ticket stubs. “None of them are for sale,” Mazz says, who is as much as music fan as she is shop owner.

A recent visitor, Bono, can be seen on the record shop's homepage. “No offence to Bono, but the shop was there before Bono,” says Mazz attempting to downplay her famous visitor.

Mazz invites people into the shop to play too. Sometimes she plays along with them. With the help of her daughter Máirín Benison, Mazz has been recording a podcast of in-store performances called Sessions From The Shop since 2010. Performers have included SOAK, Andy Irvine, John Spillane, Donovan,  local band Lumiere and even, despite the shops intimate size, a 23-piece choir.

"Inch by inch, row by row," Mazz sings to the tune of the old folk number Garden Song recounting the experience. "Those magic moments, you can't buy them."

As well as that, Mazz is also involved in DingleTunes.com, a website consisting of songs recorded on the Dingle Peninsula, which aren't available anywhere else.

The shop predates most formats. It was there before cassettes, before CDs, before Napster, iTunes and YouTube, on which Mazz has a channel. She's never used Spotify herself but has heard about it.

“If it gives the band the promotion they want and it's their choice then that's up to them if the value is there,” she says pragmatically.

Does she worry streaming services are threatening her livelihood?

“I still hope that people, no matter what age they are, will want to come in to a record shop as there will always be someone who wants to hold something tangible in their hands or talk to the person behind the counter without any sales motivation. There are cups of tea on the go all of the time,” she says.

As for illegal downloading?

“That stuff has been there since cassettes were used to tape off the radio and musicians never got a shilling for that.”

The record shop is Mazz's life and she's very serious about promoting local talent. “There are some amazing and talented acts in this country. I just wish I could do more,” she chuckles.