Once a year a sleepy little spa town on the west coast of Ireland awakens to the hum of romance. Matchmaking is an old tradition in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare. For generations landed families from miles around gathered here after crops had been harvested. That's when folks had leisure to "take the waters," and tip back a Guiness or two to the tune of an Irish Jig. Meanwhile the youngsters had a chance to get acquainted.
In recent years the annual affair assumed "festival" status and an international focus. Now it is billed as one of Europe's biggest events for singles. The unattached of all ages come – alone or in organized groups – from far and wide for the fun and hijinks scheduled each September. Gaiety should be infectious with plenty of toe-tapping Irish music and knee-slapping blarney holding sway in every pub.
Pub-hopping and dancing will be popular not only in Lisdoonvarna's plentiful pubs, but also in nearby Ennis, Kilfenora, and especially Doolin – all, are towns noted for traditional Irish music.
Scheduled events include a horse racing meet, championship barbeque cook-off, and as change from traditional Irish music, a competition of Irish marching bands, along with an assortment of meet and mingle hijinks in various venues. Festivities culminate on the final weekend with the crowning of Miss and Mr Lisdoonvarna and the awarding of major prizes.
Of course you don't have to be looking for a mate to be attracted to this part of Ireland. Lisdoonvarna claims the country's only active spa, which has been dispensing therapeutic mineral waters since the 18th century, and the County Clare region is abundantly blessed with scenic spots. It's a fine stopover point for walking, cycling, golfing, birding, fishing, and trail riding excursions. In fact, you could easily fill a two-week holiday based right in Lisdoonvarna.
>> From Europe Voyage: Excellent article. It's a great pleasure to read this. I have heard lots about this festival. Fifty years ago matchmaking in Lisddonvarna was socially important. Now it is mostly a fairly tacky event, devised to extend a tradition.