IF YOU’RE sick of swiping on Tinder and throwing out the line on Plenty of Fish; if you pine for the dating scene of the old days; if you want to meet a nice Irish farmer and settle down in the countryside; then you may make a trip to Lisdoonvarna.
The village in County Clare puts a unique spin on the search to find ‘The One’ with its annual Matchmaking Festival which, an event which has occurred for almost 150 years.
The Matchmaking Festival has continued to grow and expand, until today it is almost unrecognisable with how it looked all those decades ago—set over three weekends, live music is provided by big Irish artists including Picture This, Derek Ryan and Hermitage Green.
But it’s the old-fashioned aspects that have survived the past 150 years which provides the biggest appeal.
The festival’s website sets out Lisdnoovarna’s story of how it got to be where it is today:
“Matchmaking is an Irish tradition that’s as old as time. It began in Lisdoonvarna when visiting gentry came to ‘take the waters’ at this spa town and looked to match their children with someone suitable from the upper classes.”
“With the harvest safely in and September being the peak holiday month, many bachelor farmers began to flock to Lisdoonvarna for a spa town vacation-- and in search of a wife.”
Willie Daly, grandson of Lisdoonvarna’s original matchmaker (who was also named Willie) took over the role back in the 1960’s, where the job was mainly helping shy farmers to speak to women. Since then, Willie has set up over 3,000 marriages.
Willie’s ‘Lucky Book’, which is over 150 years old, is believed to hold special powers—touch it and you’ll be in love and even married within six months. And if you’re already married when you touch it, your relationship will re-enter the ‘Honeymoon Phase’.
The Festival includes speed dating, spa days and old-fashioned dancing, as well as the more modern pub and club nights. It is the biggest event of its kind in Europe, and this year’s event is expected to draw over 40,000 people.
Starting September 13th–15th, followed by September 20th-22nd and finishing up the weekend of 27th-29th, it remains to be seen how many couples will meet and fall in love at the historic cultural event.
To find out more, you can visit the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival’s website.