“There’s an awful lot of lonely men and women out there.”
That’s according to Gus Martyn, Irish traditional matchmaker, whose services are in even bigger demand now than ever before.
Gus has 50 people on his books, but the Meath farmer reckons he could easily give up agriculture and make a full-time career at matchmaking couples from all over Ireland.
Love may be in the air on Valentine’s Day but he says “time has marched on” for many single people who romance has forgotten.
“The traditional matchmaker is still very much in demand and I get a lot of calls from the mammies and daddies asking to find a nice suitor for their child,” said Gus.
“Sometimes the child mightn’t like being set up mind you, but after a few days, they normally calm down and decide to give it a try.
“Sometimes too, as the romance goes on, I might get a call from the same mammy saying the ‘suitor’ is not getting their feet under her table but we get around that too,” he said.
Gus has been matchmaking for 18 years in his free time but says demand from all over the country is huge.
“I don’t charge but I’m telling you, I could easily make a full-time living out of it if I did. Some people are just very shy and need an extra push.”
Indeed Gus met his own wife Olive through a matchmaking father-in-law at Ballinasloe Horse Fair and they’ve been married for 35 years.
“Olive’s father Tom Feeney has been matchmaking for over 50 years and set us up. We were eyeing each other up for a while before we took the plunge,” he said.
Gus arranges first dates at events and hangs around with Olive to make sure everything is OK before they leave.
“They’ll meet at a GAA or rugby game, at the races or in the lobby of a hotel. Somewhere there are a lot of people around.
“Myself and Olive will hang around for a while just to make sure the girl is all right and when we get the signal, we head off and wait for her text later to see how she got on.
“We make sure to check out the guy first with the parish priest or the local garda, to be extra sure of him.
“We will always meet with the girl or fella beforehand to find out their interests and see what kind of person they would like to meet.”
When asked if he can match everyone, he says: “There are men just not made yet for some of the ladies who insist their date has to have this, that and the other, especially if they are getting on in years.”
Gus says that the singletons on his books range in age from 27-77 and he has been matchmaking as lately as last week for a Dublin girl whose career got in the way of meeting the right person earlier in her life.
He is adamant that the internet dating sites haven’t affected the demand on traditional matchmaking services. He insists the opposite is true: “We’re busier now than ever. The internet sites can be very impersonal and expensive and some are even a bit crude.
“We are genuinely interested in finding that special someone for somebody and we don’t charge.”
“I’d say we have made about 100 successful matches all over the country down through the years.”
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