“Rural Ireland can be a lonely place. There’s a lot of lonely men, farmers left behind, while a lot women are based in the cities, so the festival is a great place for them to meet up”
What’s in Store?
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival has it all:
– Live music and dancing with the performances by the very best names in traditional country music.
– Endless opportunities to get together and meet people – from speed-dating to dances and sessions in the pubs.
– Fun and festivity for everyone from age 18 to 80 – everyone is welcome!
– Daily matchmaking with Matchmaker Willie Daly in his ‘office’ in the Matchmaker Bar.
– ‘The Outing’ LGBT festival – the world’s only LGBT music and matchmaking festival – featuring pop-up clubs, drag acts, comedy and live music.
Lisdoonvarna and Matchmaking
While the Festival has very much come of age over the years, moving with the times to appeal to people of all ages – its essence as a place to ‘meet, match and make a life’ remains true.
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. Parents would bring their children together at social gatherings, sporting events and musical evenings – and all being well, courtships would blossom.
The opening of the West Clare Railway in 1887 meant Lisdoonvarna increased in popularity as a tourist destination and the matchmaking tradition grew. 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.
Meet the Man Himself
While the festival has moved into the 21st century, Willie still believes in the old fashioned method of round the table talks with couples and getting the passion flowing by getting them dancing together.
Ireland’s most famous matchmaker is Willie Daly, whose time to shine is at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. His passion is to help hopeful singles, of all ages and nationalities, find a life partner and have a lot of fun on the way. Since he started out as a matchmaker 45 years ago, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, Willie has set up around 3,000 marriages.
Willie took over the matchmaking business from his father back in the 1960’s – and back then the job was mostly about helping shy farmers pluck up the courage to meet a suitable lady. The farmers, who often lived and worked on very remote farms, had poor social skills, especially when it came to socialising with women and ‘courting’.
Willie carries around what he calls his ‘Lucky Book’ – a precious notebook of love-seeking profiles which is about 150-years-old. He explains, “If you touch this ‘love ledger’ you’ll be married and in love inside of six months. If you are already married, you will recreate the honeymoon period you first had”.
Romantic Ireland will never be dead and gone, not while Willie Daly, has a hand to play in the age old art of ‘courting’.
“My grandfather, who was also Willie, did a good bit of matchmaking,” says Willie. “Though what he did was on a different scale to what happens today. This was the nineteenth century, and houses had no electricity or running water. There were no motor cars and the matchmaking was conducted at horse fairs or cattle fairs or at weddings, and even funerals. News about the matchmaker spread through word of mouth and people thought nothing of walking a good distance if it meant a chance of finding romance”
Where music’s played and matches are made
“Love is waiting there for everyone, it’s there just waiting to be found. When it is, it’s a lovely feeling.” Matchmaker, Willie Daly
The streets ring out with music and song, buzzing with dance, the craic and love for life. Bars and pubs headline some of the top names in country music, and from dance floor to cosy table, the little town of Lisdoonvarna in the west of Ireland is full of the promise and passion of ‘meeting your match’. This is the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – the biggest event of its kind in Europe and part of the rich tradition of rural Ireland. A chance to gather and celebrate life, love, good music and great times! This year, some 40 000 people will once more take their place at the Festival – for six weekends of fun, party, music and romance – make sure YOU are one them…