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Gardens Overview Lisdoonvarna is a small spa town in Ireland, home to well under 1,000 residents. But each September, more than 40,000 eligible Irish farmers descend on this little village. This matchmaking festival is Europe’s largest singles event, and it has been in the making for more than 200 years.
It’s a veritable love fest. During the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, romantic hopefuls meet up under the guidance of local love guru, Willie Daly. He’s a third-generation matchmaker, and many say that he is the last of his kind in Ireland.
He’s one of a long line of men who both trade horses and broker marriages – an unlikely but not entirely inconceivable combination. Matchmaking is an ancient tradition in Ireland. It began in Lisdoonvarna after the town became famous in the late 1700s for its mineral springs.
In those days, lonely farmers would caravan down to the town in September, after all of their crops had been brought in for the year. Local matchmakers introduced them to eligible candidates, and a robust tradition was born. Matchmaking: An Evolving Tradition in Ireland Men greatly outnumber women at this event, and many of them really are farmers, even today.
That said, women make a strong showing here. In the past few years, internationally acclaimed singer, Sinéad O’Connor, came in search of love. Willie Daly also says he’s currently being contacted by a number of Chinese nationals hoping to find love with an Irish farmer.
It’s a worldwide event. The matchmaking process has changed over the years. Daly explains that, centuries before, eligible men came with their mothers, who actually did most of the talking. Today, potential lovers meet at one of the daily dances staged for the entire month of September and the early part of October.
These social events continue on until 2 a.m. each night, giving potential matches plenty of time to get to know each other. To learn more, visit the or get connected via the .
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Dates Festivities may not take place every day during this date range. Please check the festival's official page for more details.
If there’s a long queue to see Willie, look for his daughter, Claire She’s the fourth generation matchmaker in the family and some consider her even more prescient than her father.
Bring your dancing shoes The dances start around noon every day and go late into the evening. If you’re not here for the matchmaking, consider it an aerobic festival.
Find your mate and head to the spa The Spa Hotel was the centre around which this little village developed due to the mineral waters rich in iron, sulphur, and magnesium. If you’re unlucky in love, you’re lucky there’s a place to pamper yourself. Take a drive along the coast The craggy coast of Ireland is a short drive away. Whether you’re mated or not, you’ll appreciate the rugged beauty of the Irish coast.
Getting to Dublin Take a bus, train, or car to Galway which is the best city for accommodations for Lisdoonvarna if you’re not planning on staying right in the village (although Galway is an hour away from the festival). You can also come from Limerick Which is an hour and a half away from Lisdoonvarna. There are more than a dozen bed & breakfast and small hotels and inns near the festival but they tend to fill up early.
Try Airbnb for some great local options in and around and ...including a .
© www.matchmakerireland.com The music lineup mostly includes country. There's a big stage for younger crowds with DJs and some big names.
But also there’s daily music and more traditional Irish dancing in every bar for older people. During the festival, everyone can meet Ireland’s most famous matchmaker Willie Daly in his ‘office' in the Matchmaker Bar. The place also has a legendary matchmaking book. Supposedly, if you touch it with both hands, you’ll be married in six months!
Rathbaun Hotel Lisdoonvarna