The annual Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival — Ireland’s oldest matchmaking event — threw off its 157-year-old tradition, with gay abandon, to welcome same-sex singletons to the festival for the first time.
And, according to those in search of gay and lesbian relationships, the west Clare rural town tightly wrapped its arms around the Rainbow community visitors.
Daithí Naughton, originally from Mullingar, but living for the past 15 years in Dublin, who attended enthused: “I can’t wait until next year if this is what the first year is like.”
Speaking, a bit too early, from his bed yesterday morning , the 39-year old said Lisdoon had “woken up” following two nights of glitter and swank, and lots of craic.
“Forgive my voice, I’ve been up until 7.30 this morning. It’s been a great weekend.”
“Last night we had a ceilí of our own making in the Hydro Hotel going on until all hours. People that normally go to Electric Picnic (music festival) came here to see what it would be like, and they’ve clearly made their choice.”
Eurovision winner and Gay icon Niamh Kavanagh rocked the party, while RTE personality Brendan Courtney and Dublin drag queen Panti, posed for pictures with the matchmaker himself, Willie Daly.
“Niamh Kavanagh woke up Lisdoon and there were drag artists like Johnny Woo and Panti keeping it going. I can’t wait until next year,” Mr Naughton said.
He added the locals gave all the visiting gay and lesbian love-seekers a real Cead Milé Failte.
“A lot of the business people in the town had Rainbow flags and bunting hanging outside their premises. People seemed to be delirious with excitement about welcoming us. Lisdoon has opened up a new page and it’s very exciting.”
Ciarán O’Driscoll, from Castletownbere, Cork, was also recovering from the night before. Mr O’Driscoll, 26, said he had become “tired” of online dating and wanted to experience meeting people face to face.
“It was the added novelty of Lisdoonvarna that got me on board. I got tired of dating apps; Those apps are distracting and not suited to people looking for a (deeper) relationship, like chatting.”
He praised the Lisdoon atmosphere and craic as “brilliant” — the highlight been an “all-night sing song with Madonna to Christy Moore at full volume”.
Organiser of The Outing, Dónal Mulligan, said the event was already on course for next year given its success.
“I’d say over the course of the weekend we had over 2,000 people attending for various events. Last night we had to open another ballroom at the Hydro Hotel.”