History of the Festival

Over 150 years of tradition...

Lisdoonvarna, the location of the world-famous matchmaking festival, developed into a tourist centre more than a century ago when a top Limerick surgeon discovered the beneficial effects of its mineral waters. People travelled from near and far to bathe in (and drink) the mineral waters. Rich in iron, sulphur and magnesium, the waters were reputed to give relief from the symptoms of diseases like rheumatism and glandular fever.

Lisdoonvarna main street in days past

The Spa Hotel was the centre around which the village developed. The opening of the West Clare Railway contributed towards that development, although the nearest railway station was seven miles away at Ennistymon. This station opened in 1887 and from that time onwards, until the advent of the motorcar, tourists travelled from the train in pony and trap to "The Spa". It was due to the popularity of these mineral springs and the huge amount of people going there that led to the Lisdoonvarna matchmaking tradition.

September became the peak month of the holiday season and with the harvest safely in, bachelor farmers flocked to Lisdoonvarna in search of a wife. Now known as the “Matchmaking Festival”, this event has become extremely popular and now consists of five weekends!

For more than 150 years, every September has seen one of the world's largest matchmaking events held in the town, attracting upwards of 40,000 romantic hopefuls. The current matchmaker is Willie Daly, a fourth-generation matchmaker who will, of course, also be present at The Outing.

  • Taking the waters at Lisdoonvarna
  • Lisdoonvarna Spa
  • Lisdoonvarna Post Office