Lisdoon’s lovebirds step out for 43rd match-up

THEY met and fell in love 43 years ago at the Lisdoonvarna match-making festival and were married the following September.

Yesterday, shortly after midday at the Town Hall Pavilion, Limerick couple Albert and Cecily Lawlor took to the dance floor as part of their annual pilgrimage to the month-long match-making festival – billed as Europe’s largest singles’ event.

The Shay O’Callaghan showband had already been entertaining the dancing couples in the hall and dancing at various venues throughout Lisdoon continued late into the night.

Taking a break from the dancing, Albert said: “We love it here. There are no strangers here. It is the people that come here that make the festival.”

The Lawlors met at the Hydro Hotel during the 1967 matchmaking festival and were married within 12 months. Albert laughs: “I had to see what she was like first.”

The Lawlors have not missed a match-making festival at Lisdoon since and Albert is a firm believer that if you are looking for love, Lisdoonvarna during the month of September is the place to come to.

“For sure. It is early in the day now, but I know quite a number of people who have got married after meeting in Lisdoonvarna,” says Albert.

“The majority of people that come here are either separated, widows, widowers or single and there is a much better chance of meeting people your own age.”

Albert adds: “Younger people now don’t know how to dance and that’s what wrong. There is no contact, whereas here with the dancing, there is contact between the body and that makes a terrible difference.”

In the hotel lobby match-maker Willie Daly is busy readying his Cupid’s arrows as he prepares for what he hopes is a night of busy match-making ahead.

In front of him is his fabled match-making book which is held together with white shoe-laces, dating he says, from his grandfather’s work as a match-maker in the 19th century.

Willie says: “It is a lucky book and it’s said that if you touch it, you will be married within six months.”

Willie charges between €5 to €20 for his services and on a typical one-page sheet a client provides information on hobbies and general interests, occupation and their own “personal preference for a partner”. The north Clare man says: “I am a great believer in simplicity and the forms are not hugely detailed.”

The recession, however, has taken its toll on romance and “that is regrettable”. He says: “It is back down to where it was in the 1940s and 1950s and women would be looking for a bit of home and a bit of a roof over their head and it is hard to credit that women would be back to that.” He adds: “I don’t hear the expression ‘is he good looking?’ much anymore. What I hear now ‘is he reasonably well off?’.”

However, Willie says : “You can’t make a match without having a bit of magic.”


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