Over 150 years of tradition
Lisdoonvarna, the previous 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.
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!