Other Voices heard as storm Desmond fails to drown out Dingle’s magic

Star turn comes from 17-year-old Mahalia who turns in an “astonishing” set

By late Sunday afternoon, a calm has descended on Dingle in Co Kerry. Storm Desmond has blown himself out; people are able to peek out of doors again; walks on the street are no longer an ordeal.

But even with the improved weather, most bars are still packed, with people making the most of the final day of the Other Voices festival.

Now in its 14th year, it brings major acts and a selection of contenders to perform short sets in the tiny St James's Church, recorded for broadcast on RTÉ later in the year. Tickets are given away through competitions, and in-between sets, the crowd nips back to Benner's bar, to grab a drink or pass their ticket to a friend so that everyone gets a look at the sacred space.

All weekend, punters and fans jostle for space with performers and locals; Dingle is not a place familiar with VIP rooms or velvet ropes.


This year's Other Voices is all about the youth. On Friday night, UK artist Jack Garratt delivers an explosive performance. London rapper Little Simz gives him a run for his money with a fierce and emotional set, while English singer Lapsley lends a touch of class and intensity to the bill. On Saturday night, most of the talk in Dingle is about Mahalia – she might be just 17, but here she lays down a marker with an astonishing set of music.

Of the more established names, Low show the kind of class and craft that have kept them comfortably in the business for decades.

Annual pilgrimage

On Saturday night,

Glen Hansard

, just back from the US, via a nine-hour Dublin to Kerry car journey, packs an impressive amount of musicians on to the stage, along with a grand piano, for a satisfying set from his latest solo album. Hansard was a presenter at the first iteration of Other Voices; those who come to Dingle in December have a habit of making an annual pilgrimage.

Away from the church, Eve Belle must be the hardest working musician here, having taken a bus from Donegal for 12 hours for a set in Adam's bar, before heading straight back the following day.

Bitch Falcon turn the back room of An Droichead Beag into a sea of limbs and noise. And Rusangano Family show why they are a class above most other Irish hip hop acts.

A late-night session in Benner's finds Hansard and Mahalia swapping songs with Brendan Begley; all music seems to find its way down the Dingle peninsula in December.