150 years of Matchmaking in Lisdoonvarna:
If you’re single and are looking for love and romance, why not join thousands of Irishmen and women at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in County Clare this September and early October.
Lisdoonvarna is one of Europe’s biggest singles events and apart from enjoying all of the good-natured fun and grand “craic”, you may also just find your perfect match!
Matchmaking is one of Ireland’s oldest traditions and in the past there were matchmakers in every Irish town. Matchmaking requires a very specific skill set and only folks who instinctively understand the blend of finesse, pragmatism, nous and charm, prerequisites for bringing together a couple in love, can be successful as matchmakers.
How Lisdoonvarna became a matchmaking centre is an interesting story. It seems the town developed into a tourist centre as early as the middle of the 18th-century when a top Limerick surgeon discovered the beneficial effects of its mineral water. People came to Lisdoonvarna from all over to bathe in and drink the mineral water which was rich in iron, sulphur and magnesium. The water had curative ingredients and provided relief from the symptoms of certain diseases including rheumatism and glandular fever.
The Spa Hotel was the centre around which the village developed and the opening of the West Clare Railway contributed towards that development – although the nearest railway station was seven miles away at Ennistymon. This station opened in l887 and brought more people to “The Spa”. It was the popularity of these mineral springs and the huge amount of people coming that led to the Lisdoonvarna “matchmaking tradition”.
September became the peak month of the holiday period as the harvests are over and bachelor farmers would then flock to Lisdoonvarna in search of a wife. By the 1920s, matchmaking was still in vogue and people continued to come and “take the waters”. The name Lisdoonvarna comes from ‘Lios Duin Bhearna’, which means the lios or enclosure of the fort in the gap.
In our high-speed digital world today, matchmaking is an anachronism and there is just one official matchmaker left in County Clare and you can meet him at the Festival and maybe get a free matchmaking service – Willie Daly runs the riding centre outside Ennistymon and practices matchmaking part time. With the exception of the pairings he plans and negotiates, very little genuine matchmaking takes place these days. However, Lisdoonvarna’s annual Festival has evolved into one of Europe’s largest singles events. So, if you’re single and seeking the prospect of love and romance, ditch the online dating and dating services and head for Lisdoonvarna.
If you’re not yet ready to get hitched, rest assured that not everyone goes to Lisdoonvarna to look for a spouse – singles come by the thousands in search of a good time. During the month of September, dances run from 12.00 noon each day and carry on into the wee hours of the morning. Set dancing exhibitions are also a feature of the event and there’s live Irish music in most pubs and lots of amber ale or Guinness. For more information see the Festival website at www.matchmaterireland.com.
If you’ve been to Lisdoonvarna and the Matchmaking Festival, we would love to hear what you think.