For many (many) years now I’ve been threatening to visit the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival and a few weeks ago I roped in my friend Noeleen and finally bit the bullet. And oh what a weekend we had! The small Co. Clare town is literally overflowing with good old-fashioned fun and goodwill as singletons and couples of all ages and from all over Ireland hit the town for 6 weeks through August, September and early October looking for love.
All that love (lust?) in the air creates a warm, welcoming environment with everyone mixing and dancing at will, all on the lookout for a little weekend romance or a longer-term commitment. Noeleen and I met lovely characters from every corner of Ireland and beyond, fine specimens of both gender. One lady I met told me she was from Effin Kilmallock. When I said I was from Effin Cavan, she said no, the Townland is actually called Effin. Hilarity ensued. Suffice it to say it is our new favourite place name! We also met several people we knew, so be warned, don’t be going to Lisdoonvarna to be getting up to anything but good clean fun, or you’ll get caught rapid!
With dancing in several venues from morning until late we were spoiled for choice but the Hydro Hotel on the hill was where we spent the night and had great fun. A great mix of young and old, several bars and live music with DJs, there was something (and someone!) for everyone. A great traditional venue with great staff, we had a mighty night throwing some shapes to Kentucky singer Buck Taylor and his brilliant band and refreshingly, we were never stuck for dance partners. I think Lisdoonvarna must be a bit like the mythical and mystical dancehalls of old my parents reminisce fondly about, where lads ACTUALLY asked lassies to dance, slow set or not. I know, imagine! Anyway, suffice it to say, I probably got asked to dance more times at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival than in the last 5 years elsewhere. That’s enough to recommend it in my book! We left the Hydro in the early hours as we didn’t stay there but I’m going to go back and stay for a weekend out of the matchmaking season as it’s very reasonable and a handy stopping point when I’m exploring Clare.
But the revelry didn’t stop there. We were up early on Sunday morning as the pubs were full again, with live music and many punters dancing off the hangovers, or working on new ones! Apparently, there isn’t a second to waste in the search for love as one lad told me, ‘if a girl looks good this morning after being out last night and all, that’s a good sign’. I don’t think he was referring to me! Mind you, he did pull me out for a dance, so maybe my ‘bleary-eyed’ appeal won him over anyway? Though he was quickly onto the next candidate, so perhaps not!
So all in all, the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival was mighty craic. Did I find love? No. Did I care? No! I was too busy getting flung around the dancefloor to notice to be honest. If you like throwing some shapes, get your dancing shoes on and head on down, you might get lucky. And if you are indeed looking for love, why not set up an appointment with Willie Daly the matchmaker himself in his office at the Matchmaker Bar? With over 3,500 marriages under his belt, he certainly seems to know his stuff. And who knows, in 50 years you could be like couple Albert and Cecily who met at the festival 48 years ago and haven’t missed a year since!
Lisdoonvarna, single or not (fingers crossed for the latter!) I will see you next year. You’d never know, I might hire a bus and bring a gang!
Contact Willie Daly, the Matchmaker: +353 (0) 86 671 2155