The other Dingle for 'Other Voices'
Ahead of this year's recording of Other Voices in Dingle, Tony Clayton-Lea shares his hidden gems for the Kerry town, plus some locals give their insider tips
BEST PLACES TO STAY
The beautifully decorated Lantern Townhouse (Main Street; lanterntownhouse.com) is definitely one of the classiest boutique townhouses I’ve ever stayed in. Breakfasts here are exceptional.
Other equally good places to rest the head include Benner’s Hotel (Main Street; dinglebenners.com), which is, effectively, Other Voices central.
Dingle Lodge (John Street; southboundholidaycottages.com) is perfect for a group or family booking, as it sleeps 10 in five bedrooms (three of which are en-suite, with shower), and has a large living room area, too.
BEST FOR FOOD
Breakfast is usually taken care of by your hosts, and depending on what time you shake the sleep out of your eyes, lunch might not even be an option. That said, the best lunches can be obtained at quite a few places around town. My favourites include Goat Street Café (Main Street; thegoatstreetcafe.com), which has a relaxed atmosphere and perfectly cooked informal food. By far the quirkiest cafe is Cul Gairdín (Main Street; no website), where the vegetarian, vegan, wholefood is stunning. We can’t think of another restaurant that does soups or smoothies any better. Another firm favourite for lunch is Adam’s (Main Street; no website), which is snug/nook/cranny heaven, and a genuine respite from walking the legs off yourself. Dinner? Well, if this is about favourites, then it has to be seafood restaurant Doyle’s (John Street; doylesofdingle.ie), which is warm in welcome and atmosphere, and delivers the best fish stew in town, in my opinion.
BEST FOR DRINK
Bars and pubs form the primary meetings points throughout the day and evening for the Other Voices community, and Dingle has enough of them (more than 50) for casual visitor and connoisseur alike.
The town has some of the most brilliantly quirky pubs you’ll ever step into. Possibly my all-time favourite is Dick Mack’s (Green Street), which, while quite likely the pub that tourists and visitors feel they have to see in Dingle, still retains a level of uniqueness that marks it out from any other. Close second is Foxy John’s (Main Street), which is part pub, part hardware shop. Coming up a very close third is Curran’s (Main Street). Lonely Planet might not like it (“Don’t expect an exuberant welcome from the flinty-eyed locals”), but don’t mind them – they’re wrong.
BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE
Standing on farmland on the Dingle Peninsula, and dating from – depending on whatever reference you read, the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth or 12th century – the Gallarus Oratory is a fine example of a Christian place of worship. It’s totally waterproof due to its dry-stone construction.
If you want to feel the spray on your face, then head out to the west of Slea Head to view the Blasket Islands, which were inhabited until 1953. You can take a ferry over from the mainland to experience what is still an inspiring example of raw beauty.
Fancy a good walk? Put on your boots and start walking the Conor Pass, a rugged, twisting road – cresting at 1,300ft above sea level – that links Dingle on the south to Kilcummin on the north coast at Brandon Bay.
Further details: dingle-peninsula.ie dingle-region.com
DINGLE INSIDERS . . .
AIDEN GILLEN, actor, and presenter of Other Voices television series:
“Go out to the little castle at the entrance to the harbour – you get to it either by walking out along the coast from the Skellig Hotel, or you can drive quite close to it. Walk right out past the castle and sit on the edge there looking at the water, especially at full tide. You could sit there for hours; I often did.”
TRIONA DUIGNAN, manager of Dingle-based band, Walking On Cars:
“I have a few gems. For surfing, go to Coumineol, one of the most stunning beaches in the world; for best traditional music head to O’Sullivan’s Court House and John Benny’s Bar; the best café is Cul Gairdín, which is vegetarian, with flu-fighter juices and smoothies; and the best restaurant is Out Of The Blue seafood restaurant. Looks can be deceiving, but this place is quite special.”
PHILIP KING, documentary producer and overseer of Other Voices:
“We are lucky in Dingle to have a cinema, and not just any old cinema but one run by the O’Sullivan family, who have a love for and a deep knowledge of “the pictures“. The Phoenix Cinema is located right at the heart of the town. Folks gather for the Film Club every Tuesday, 52 weeks of the year, and the Dingle Film Festival has its headquarters there. The place is like a Dáil of sorts, a gathering full of local news with its own soundtrack humming alongside the screen action – and often more interesting. It’s a refuge from the rain on dark days, and you know, I think it’s the best cinema I have ever been to.”