Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival: the story and history of the Irish tradition

We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about the month-long Irish festival, Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival 2022.

Those of you who are familiar with this traditional festival of love in Ireland will know exactly what this is all about.

Plus, maybe you even know the story behind this fascinating event. However, for those of you who are seeing this for the first time or perhaps want to know a bit more, then let us tell you.

We’re going to delve into the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. We’ll tell you the history, and what it’s all about.

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – what’s it all about

As you might have guessed, the famous matchmaking festival is held in none other than Lisdoonvarna, a spa town in County Clare, close to the famous Wild Atlantic Way on Ireland’s rugged west coast.

The festival is held every September. Could you actually believe it has been held at this time every year since 1857?

The man behind Europe’s biggest and most famous singles event is matchmaker Willie Daly, who is the third generation in his family to continue this age-old Irish tradition, and he has set up a whopping 3,000 marriages in his fifty years of matchmaking so far.

He still believes in his proven ways to unite singles, by getting them talking and, most importantly, dancing together. Of course, he has help from his ‘lucky book’. But, how did this all begin?

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking festival –  the story

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is an exciting event that takes place every September in County Clare.
Credit: Flickr / Jennifer Boyer

Lisdoonvarna has always been a place for matchmaking ever since the discovery of healing mineral waters from the area, which turned the small rural town into a tourist hub, with people flocking here to bathe and drink the healthy water.

With so many people gathering together and with September being the main month for the crowds, the festival began and still continues each September over five exciting weekends.

It also coincided with it being an ideal time for bachelor farmers, who had their workload done, to find the time to search for their significant other.

Willie Daly, who is the current matchmaker, took over the business from his father and he from his father, who had set it up to help unsociable farmers find suitable wives.

This was hard, considering many of the single women had moved to the cities. Men and women would follow the hand-painted signs, directing them to his house, sit with him and tell them what they were looking for.

Their profile was inserted into the book, and then Daly began his search for their ideal match, and this is how it progressed. Is anyone else getting old-school Tinder vibes?

Willie Daly – the man behind it all

Willie Daly is the man behind it all.
Credit: Facebook / @LisdoonvarnaFestival

In a world where online dating is so prominent, this way of matchmaking is such a great experience for many singles out there.

Think speed dating, but in a casual, fun environment and with your very own professional matchmaker.

Willie Daly, Ireland’s most famous matchmaker, says he doesn’t have a particular strategy for setting people up but encourages people to be open-minded and “act fast” if they want to find love.

The matchmaker consistently says that he knows if someone is serious about finding the one they will marry, and generally, the people attending the festival are the ones that are ready to settle down.

At the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, it's said that if you touch the 'lucky book' you'll find love in no time.
Credit: Facebook / @LisdoonvarnaFestival

When it comes to love at first sight, he believes it is not as uncommon as you would think, and he has experienced spontaneous proposals on many occasions, something which brings a smile to his face.

It all comes down to the ‘lucky book’, which held hundreds of singles profiles, which is now over 150 years old but still beholds that mystical power.

It is said that if you touch the book, you will find your soulmate and be married within six months.

If you are already married, you will reenact your first honeymoon. It’s no wonder thousands of people attend this festival every year to find true love.

Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival –  how it has evolved

The festival has evolved to now support LGBTQ events.
Credit: Facebook / @LisdoonvarnaFestival

The greatest thing about this Irish singles festival is that although it has truly emerged into the 21st century, with five weekends of live music, dancing and international DJs, it has still kept its old worldly charm and Irish traditions.

You will not find a festival in Europe or even around the world that attracts people from the ages of 18 to 90.

People who are looking to enjoy some of the top names in country music, dancing, and the chance to meet their soulmates. It is the biggest event of its kind across the globe.

For the last few years, there has been an LGBTQ matchmaking festival held each year because Willie believes everybody deserves to find love.

The famous matchmaking event will be back with a bang in September 2022, so keep an eye out!

Other notable mentions

Willie Daly: Willie Daly’s grandfather was also called Willie Daly. He did a “good bit of matchmaking” as well. Although, in the nineteenth century, it was on an entirely different scale, with no electricity or running water.

Elsha Daly: Elsha Daly, Willie’s daughter, will be taking over as the official matchmaker in the coming years.

Christy Moore: Christy Moore celebrates the festival in a song with the same name. As he puts it, “Cause Woodstock, Knock nor the Feast of Cana can hold a match to Lisdoonvarna.”

FAQs about the Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival

The annual matchmaking festival, The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, started over 160 years ago.

When did the festival start?

The annual matchmaking festival, The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, started over 160 years ago.

What date does the festival start this year?

This year, the festival starts on 2 September 2022 and runs for four weeks.

What happens at the festival?

At the festival, you can be guaranteed lots of dancing and singing. There are also get-togethers and daily matchmaking services provided by Willie Daly himself!

You can find everything you need to know about the festival here.

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