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Other Voices to celebrate fiche bliain ag fás

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Artist Gerry Barry from Castlegregory working on an installation called 'Nest', which will form part of an exhibition to be held in Grey's Lane during Other Voices. Photo by Declan Malone

Artist Gerry Barry from Castlegregory working on an installation called 'Nest', which will form part of an exhibition to be held in Grey's Lane during Other Voices. Photo by Declan Malone

President Michael D Higgins chatting with Seán Mac a' tSíthigh in the Skellig Hotel on Friday night in advance of their interview on the President's new publication 'Reclaiming the European Street', which was a highlight of the Dingle Literary Festival. Photo by Declan Malone

President Michael D Higgins chatting with Seán Mac a' tSíthigh in the Skellig Hotel on Friday night in advance of their interview on the President's new publication 'Reclaiming the European Street', which was a highlight of the Dingle Literary Festival. Photo by Declan Malone

Tomiás Garvey greeting President Michael D Higgins, who was in the Skellig Hotel on Friday night to discuss his new publication 'Reclaiming the European Street', as part of the Dingle Literary Festival. Photo by Declan Malone

Tomiás Garvey greeting President Michael D Higgins, who was in the Skellig Hotel on Friday night to discuss his new publication 'Reclaiming the European Street', as part of the Dingle Literary Festival. Photo by Declan Malone

Dingle Literary Festival Director Sheila O'Reilly with Irene Flannery and Kieran Murphy who were part of the voluntary crew at festival events in An Díseart on Sunday. Photo by Declan Malone

Dingle Literary Festival Director Sheila O'Reilly with Irene Flannery and Kieran Murphy who were part of the voluntary crew at festival events in An Díseart on Sunday. Photo by Declan Malone

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Artist Gerry Barry from Castlegregory working on an installation called 'Nest', which will form part of an exhibition to be held in Grey's Lane during Other Voices. Photo by Declan Malone

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The stage is set for four days of musical creativity and lively discussion as Dingle hosts the Other Voices ‘Fiche Bliain ag Fás’ festival this weekend. The event, which evolved from televised intimate concerts in St James’s Church, has grown to become an international brand synonymous with high quality presentation of music and discussions with diverse points of view. Other Voices has provided a stage to artists on the cusp of international fame and their ability to spot emerging new talent hs cemented their success. Twenty years on from their first performances in 2001, the festival will run over four days but because of Covid restrictions the very popular music trail, which drew thousands of people to Dingle in previous years, will not be taking place. The music trail has been replaced with 10 concerts to be held in An Díseart and the Hillgrove, both with restricted numbers. However, the concerts in St. James’s Church and the ‘IMRO Other Room’ will be streamed live into local pubs and will also be available online. New technology runs hand in hand with Other Voices, which pioneered high-definition live streaming of live performances more than 10 years ago when high-speed broadband was still unheard of. This year they are again employing cutting edge technology – this time to kill virus particles in the air to keep performers, audiences and crew safe. The virus killing technology, along with compulsory Covid certificates and mask wearing, forms part of their Covid-19 protection policy. Although music is what Other Voices is best known for, their parallel ‘Ireland’s Edge’ conference also bring together experts and thinkers from different professions to draw out different points of view on burning issues of the day. The talking heads gathered for this year’s conference in the Skellig Hotel on Saturday, entitled Altered States / Idir Eatarthu’, will discuss disinformation, data privacy, climate change, the housing crisis and cultural identity. Meanwhile ‘Banter’, a cosy fireside chat will bring a mixed bag of visual artists, journalists, musicians and researchers together to discuss what makes them tick. Admission to the event in Foxy John’s will be on a first come basis. COGAR In a separate branch of the arts growing out of Other Voices, artist Áine Ní Chiobháin has developed ‘Cogar’ as a vehicle for Irish language arts. This year’s Cogar will see Gerry Barry, Ferg Flannery, Deirdre McKenna and Emma Prendiville present a group show in the former Grey’s Lane café, renamed the Cogar space this weekend. The art exhibitions will be open each day and during the day intermittent acoustic performances by musician /composer Niamh Varian Barry, musician Larry Beau, slam poet Colm Mac Gearailt who is the current writer in residence at An Díseart. Further details are available at the Other Voices website, Othervoices.ie, and social media pages.

SHU cancels visit by 142 students over high Covid rates

Sacred Heart University in the USA has been forced to cancel a planned two-week visit by 142 students to its Dingle campus because of the risks posed by continuing high levels of Covid in West Kerry and throughout Ireland.
The visit, which was due to take place from December 29, was planned four months ago when Covid rates were low and stable in West Kerry. However, since mid-October the situation has changed dramatically and Covid rates are now at an all-time high in Corca Dhuibhne.
Faced with the worsening situation SHU felt there was no option but to cancel the visit, even though flights and accommodation in Dingle were already booked.
The decision, which was guided by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as NPHET advice from Ireland, meant a substantial financial loss for Sacred Heart. However, Executive Director of the SHU Campus in Dingle, Gary Delaney, said the university was very grateful to Aer Lingus and the local accommodation providers who recognised the difficulty of the situation and had been very flexible and supportive.
“We were happy at the end of September that the Covid incidence rate had been below 500 [per 100,000 population] for the previous five weeks and was on a downward trend, which meant Ireland was on the CDC’s ‘green list’. At that time the outlook was very positive and we booked flights and an excess of accommodation in Dingle so that we could ensure low occupancy rates and still have space to spare in case in case any students needed to isolate,” said Gary.
He added that SHU insists that travelling students must be vaccinated and have a clear antigen before taking a flight. SHU had also organised with a local pharmacy for the students to have two antigen tests during their two-week stay in Dingle to ensure both their safety and the safety of the local community.
“We had done a complete risk analysis and were satisfied we would have Covid-free students arriving and that we had the capacity to deal with any cases that might arise while they were in Dingle,” Gary said. “However, in the last two weeks we have examined the rate of Covid cases in Ireland in comparison to the US and decided to call off the trip in the interest of safety, even though this is going above and beyond the current requirements.”
Gary said SHU remains hopeful that the university’s spring semester, with 62 students enrolled for the 15-week term, will still go ahead in Dingle. However, this will depend on ongoing Covid trends in Ireland.

Covid rate hits all-time high

Covid rates in the Corca Dhuibhne Local Electoral Area have taken another leap and now stand at the highest level recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic in the spring of last year.
At the height of the third wave of coronavirus, the number of cases in Corca Dhuibhne peaked at 860 cases per 100,000 population on January 11 last. Aside from a surge during August and early September the number of cases in Corca Dhuibhne has remained consistently low since then, and for several months during the spring and summer no coronavirus infections were recorded.
However, since mid-September, when the government relaxed coronavirus restrictions, infection rates have escalated. In the two weeks ending on November 8 Corca Dhuibhne had an infection rate of 775.7 per 100,000 population. Since then the rate has increased by 23 per cent and for the two weeks ending on November 15 it stood at an all time high of 952, according to the latest official figures.
This was the highest rate of increase recorded in Kerry over the past two weeks, but not the highest overall rate of infection. That title is held by the Kenmare Local Electoral Area with an infection fate of 1344.7. The national infection rate now stands at 1160.7.

President captivates at ‘Dingle Lit’

The captivated audience who attended the interview with President Michal D Higgins in the Skellig Hotel hung on every word as he shared his views on the importance of libraries, the urgent need for a response to climate change and his desire for an ethical economy that will bring social and ecological justice.
In the interview with Sean Mac an tSithigh on Friday as part of the Dingle Literary Festival President Higgins discussed his latest publication ‘Reclaiming the European Streets’, a collection of his lectures on Europe and the European Union delivered between 2016 and 2020. As expected the discussion extended beyond the book and In an enthralling interview he acknowledged the value and status of Corca Dhuibhne Irish, the importance of authenticity and challenging ‘false certainties’, and he admonished people “for firing words without taking responsibility for how they fell”. He distinguished between the value of growth and the destructive nature of insatiable greed, suggesting that people should identify “what is sufficient, what is necessary, what is insatiable and what is excessive accumulation”.
President Higgins drew applause when he explained his decision, taken after a great deal of deliberation, not to attend the commemoration of Partition. “People thought I’d change my mind; I don’t operate [on the basis of] feeling the wind,” he said, adding “If I had gone to something that had in its title ‘Partition of Ireland’, I doubt it would be Constitutional. There was applause as well when he said the strongly favoured public housing being built by governments on public land but he declined to be drawn on local issues when Sean raised the lack of housing for Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht.
Not one to miss a marketing opportunity the President found space to let the audience know that copies of his book were still available and many of the 140 people who attended bought one, queueing up afterwards to have them signed.
Meanwhile, on Saturday and Sunday a series of events based around books in Baile ‘n Fheirtéaraigh and Dingle explored a range of topics. Tuismitheoirí na Gaeltachta joined forces with the festival to present Poet Lauerate na nÓg, Áine Ghlinn, to an audience of 8 - 12 year olds. Later on Saturday, in An Díseart, award winning author Sarah Baume interviewed her former creative writing tutor Carlo Gébler to discuss the relevance in today’s world of Greek tragedies, drawing from his latest book which offers a retelling of the 5th Century Oedipus Rex from the viewpoint of his daughter Antigone.
The festival aims to honour the internationally recognised literary heritage of the West Kerry area and amongst the Irish language authors discussing their work were Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhride, author of the An Post Irish language book of the year, who was interviewed by Baile ‘n Fheirtéaraigh broadcaster Sinead Ní hUallacháin.
Elsewhere, a new exploration of the impact of the Civil War on Irish society was revealed when historian Diarmaid Ferriter discussed his latest book with local historian, Dr. Conor Brosnan. Diarmaid explained that his book ‘Between two Hells’ explains the social context of the civil war and the impact it had on people’s lives, as revealed in the enormous body of information and personal testimony that is available in the Pensions Service Records and other sources.
Amongst the people Diarmaid recalled was Ballymore woman Johanna Cleary who endured a prolonged hunger strike and died from TB at 26 years of age.
The three days of events were wound up on Sunday evening with an interview with Declan O’Rourke on his book ‘The Pawnbroker’s Reward’, which examines the Irish Famine through the lens of one Cork family.
The organising committee were delighted with the weekend and are very grateful to everyone who supported the festival. The recording of some of the events are available on the festival website dinglelit.ie and YouTube channel.

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Tractor run hits the road with mission to help charities

After being laid up last year because of Covid restrictions the West Kerry Tractor Run will be back on the road next Sunday, continuing its mission of raising money for charity.
The tractor run, which was first held in 2018, was the brainchild of John Patrick O’Sullivan and the Devane family in Lios Póil, each of whom wanted to support charities that had helped them in their hour of need.
John Patrick is alive because of a lung transplant he received in 2016 and he wanted to do something in return for the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association, as well as raising awareness of the importance of organ donations. For the Devane family the charity was Gairdín Mhuire day care centre in Dingle where Seamus Devane’s wife, Noreen, had received great care prior to her death in 2018.
It was “a bit of an idea that snowballed,” according to John Patrick, and thanks to huge support from the farming community the tractor run has so far raised €71,000 for the Irish Lung Fibrosis Association (ILFA) and local charities. Charities will again benefit from this year’s event, with the funds due to be divided equally between the ILFA, the West Kerry Community Hospital Patient Comfort Fund, and Gairdín Mhuire.
Sunday’s tractor run is taking a slightly different route to previous years. It will leave from John Liston’s pet farm near Lios Póil at noon, arriving into Dingle via The Tracks and carrying on to Milltown and out the Long Road to Muiríoch where the tractors will take a left and proceed to Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, arriving at around 1pm. From there the tractors will take the road west to Baile an Chaladh and back via Tíorabháin to Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, over Mám na Gaoithe to Ventry and back to Dingle where, all going well, they will do a round of the town and finish the trip on the Goat Street end of the relief road.
Donations can be made to bucket collections that will be held in Lios Póil, Dingle, Ventry and Baile an Fheirtéaraigh on the day or at www.gofundme.com/west-kerry-tractor-run; or to the credit union account IBAN: IE CCHD 99220110 100 136, BIC; CCHD IE 21.

Flood threat to town

Dingle faces a greater threat of flooding from the Mall River than from the sea, according to extensive assessments which list the town among 300 areas in Ireland considered to be under significant threat of flooding because of the impacts of climate change.
An OPW spokesperson told The Kerryman that Dingle has been assessed under the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme as one of 300 areas in Ireland believed to be at significant risk of flooding. The programme identified potential flood relief works that include a water storage/catchment system where the Mall River passes through the Ballybeg area upstream of the town, defences at the downstream end of Milltown River, and sea walls and embankment defences against high tides at lower areas along the seafront. The projected cost of the work is €4.2 million.
The spokesperson said the flood defences proposed for Dingle are not in the first tranche of projects that will be undertaken, but the OPW and Kerry County Council aim to start work within the 10-year timeframe of the National Development Plan 2021-2030.
Maps of potential flooding in Dingle, prepared under the CFRAM Programme, show a high probability of flooding along the Mall River, from the old creamery to Bridge Street and along the Tracks as far as Strand Street. However, in a worst case scenario this flooding extends to inundate an approx. 600m stretch of the Low Road and all of the Spa Road as well as the bottom of Main Street and John Street. The Mall and Bridge Street would be completely underwater, and the water would even rise as far as Avondale, the lower part of Dykegate Lane and much of Strand Street.
In Milltown the worst case river flooding scenario sees water overflowing the banks of Milltown River to cover the first approx. 100m of the road from the Bridge to Baile na Buaile and the Údarás na Gaeltachta HQ appears to be in a precarious position.
The projected worst case scenario for flooding caused by higher tides is not quite so bad for areas along the Mall River but Bridge Street, the Tracks, Strand Street and the Quay again finish up underwater as does The Wood, parts of Cooleen, and a stretch of the road from Milltown Bridge to The Cottages.


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