Love, laughter and Lisdoonvarna – that’s a match

What’s not to love about a unique Irish matchmaking festival?

For those looking to find love there is nothing quite like Ireland’s Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival.

Held in the tiny town of Lisdoonvarna in County Clare, close to the stunning Cliffs of Moher on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, this typically unique Irish festival is full of the promise and passion of ‘meeting your match’.

This year, from 1 September – 8 October, as the village celebrates life, love, good music and great times, a feast of dancing and romancing will once again set hundreds on the path to a perfect pairing.

Matchmaking is one of Ireland’s oldest rural traditions, and from around the 1850s a good deal of it used to take place in Lisdoonvarna at the end of the harvest. Nowadays, all ages and nationalities show up to what is the biggest singles event in Europe.

Presiding over it all is Ireland’s last great matchmaker, Willie Daly, who has been matching couples for more than 50 years. He estimates that his work has resulted in about 3,000 marriages.

During the festivities, he can be found in the snug of The Matchmaker bar – also known as his ‘office’ – with his precious ‘magic book’ full of profiles of love-seekers.

This battered old ledger was handed down to him from his matchmaker father, who in turn received it from his own father. Willie is kept busy matchmaking all year, but Lisdoonvarna is his traditional time to shine.

At matchmaking time Lisdoonvarna is bustling. Bars and pubs will headline some of the top names in country music, including Mike Denvir, Nathan Carter and Lisa McHugh, and there’ll be dancing and other entertainment in venues all over town.

Capping off the festivities is The Outing, the world-famous LGBT offshoot of the historical matchmaking festival, held on the last weekend (6–8 October).

The Outing became the world’s first LGBT matchmaking festival in 2013 and its fusion of music, drag performances, pop-up clubs, ceilí bands and Irish and international DJs is now established as one of the most eagerly awaited weekends of the entire programme.

But it’s not all about looking for a partner. People also come in search of a good time and this year 50,000 are expected to arrive over the six weekends of partying.

So, whether looking for a partner or not, Lisdoonvarna will still guarantee a match – with a cracking weekend on the beautiful west coast of Ireland.