Thousands of singles from all over the world are expecting to arrive in the tiny village of Lisdoonvarna on the west coast of Ireland this weekend in search of love and romance at the annual matchmaking festival.
The Festival, which attracts over 80,000 people every September is the world’s only ‘offline’ dating festival – people are encouraged to switch off their smart phones and find love in the traditional way.
Matchmaker Willie Daly, who has been matching couples for over 50 years, believes that when it comes to love, the old ways are still the best.
“I don’t go near the internet myself and I’m certain the old way of matchmaking is far better than any computer.”
Willie, who offers face to face introductions, says that the initial physical attraction is still one of the most important things in matchmaking.
“Dating apps are cold and emotionless…meeting the person, looking into each other’s eyes… this is something no app can replace”, he adds.”
This year, the North Clare matchmaker is busier than ever, particularly from areas like the US, Europe and Africa and this he attributes, conversely to technology. “I am getting more and more emails every day, from all over the world – it’s hard to keep up with the demand,” says Willie, who now has help from his daughter Elsha.
One of those looking for Willie’s help this year is South African widow, Marleze Kruger who has sold her house and business to find love in Lisdoonvarna. According to Willie, Marleze is attracting unprecedented interest from bachelors all across Ireland.
“I have never experienced as much interest in a woman”, said Willie, who has received a flood of calls ahead of the month long festival.”
Lisdoonvarna Hotelier Marcus White, says the reason for the big demand in traditional matchmaking is simple.
“Online dating has taken over the simple face-to-face interaction between human beings. People need to communicate with others in order to be happy, otherwise they become distant, sad and lonely. This is why the festival is growing ten-fold.”
“Of course we can’t forget how important the internet is to our lives, but it should only be used as a tool,” added Mr White.
Now, 161 years old the vintage festival is going from strength to strength, with some of Irelands top musicians headlining this year’s event. The line-up includes Nathan Carter, Mike Denver, Derek Ryan and Lisa McHugh amongst a host of other entertainers, providing music non-stop every day from 11am in the morning until late.
The festival will kicks off on the 1nd September and run for five weeks until the 8th October, concluding with ‘The Outing’ LGBT festival, the world’s only LGBT matchmaking event. For more information on the festival, go to www.matchmakerireland.com
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is supported by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.