Each September, the tiny village of Lisdoonvarna, Ireland, swells with the influx of thousands of merrymakers for the month-long, world famous Matchmaking Festival. People come from all over Europe as well as other continents to enjoy the daily festivities of music, dancing, drinking and romancing. The most famous local celebrity is a fourth-generation matchmaker, Willy Daly, whose book, The Last Matchmaker, tells the story of his family’s tradition of finding partners for rural farmers who came into the village after harvest season in search of a bride.
I visited Lisdoonvarna with my friend Stormy in late August, 2010, when the local bars and hotels were gearing up for the onslaught of visitors, and the official Matchmaker pub was closed for preparation. You could feel the anticipation in the air and we got caught up in the excitement, although we couldn’t stay for the festival. That visit sparked my interest in the once widespread custom of matchmaking. Continue reading