New "Queen of Matchmaking" hopes for success at The Outing festival

Ahead of this weekend's The Outing LGBT+ festival, Lisdoonvarna matchmaker passes the buck on to new "Queen of Matchmaking."

A number of people dressed in brightly coloured clothes are walking down a road waving rainbow flags. They are walking past a pub called tThe Matchmaker which has a yellow sign and is adorned with red hearts.

Hopeful romantics hailing from the LGBT+ community are gearing up for annual festival, The Outing, this weekend. The LGBT+ sibling of the 160-year old Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, held annually for the month of September, The Outing is returning for its seventh year running. This year, it will be held in the “plush” Dromoland Castle in the heart of Co Clare. 

Dubbed by The Guardian as “the glittery LGBT+ matchmaking festival [where] there’s no technology, just good old-fashioned parties,” the festival will host a weekend of amazing events including a masquerade ball and a performance by Johnny Logan.

Hopeful attendees who want to find a date must fill in a physical form at the Festival headquarters. The whole ethos of the matchmaking bypasses technology and dating apps, instead focusing on in-person contact, and face-to-face conversations. At the epicentre of the festival is a 160-year old “love ledger,” which allegedly contains records of every match ever made at Lisdoonvarna.

Clare native, Willie Daly, Ireland’s last surviving traditional matchmaker, will be attending the festival. The 70-something-year-old has matched hundreds of couples throughout his 60-year career and is showing no signs of slowing down. Although he has been chief matchmaker at The Outing since the festival’s 2013 inception, this year the “magic book” will be passed on to the festival’s organiser, Eddie McGuinness. Daly says people who touch this ledger “will be married and in love inside of six months.” 

This is something of a historic event, with McGuinness commenting to GCN: “I am the only person he has given the title of Matchmaker to.”

Although Willie Daly has been at every edition of The Outing, he has been less than confident in the past about his ability to work his magic with members of the LGBT+ community, stating that it took him a while to get used to it.

Despite this, many success stories have emerged in the past from the festival, including a lesbian couple who were introduced by Panti Bliss.  

The West has often been home to matchmaking festivals of different kinds. Willie recalls a previous gay-focused festival: “When I was young we had The Gay Bachelor Festival in Ballybunion. It was very prestigious to be named a gay bachelor.”

Daly, who on September 29th will come to the end of a month-long stint at the September-long Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking festival, has no intention of retiring anytime soon. He is enthusiastic about the power of the festival to bring people together: “There’s a magic about Lisdoonvarna which you don’t get anywhere else in the world, and being involved with it is the highlight of the year for me.
 I’m looking forward to making many more introductions.”

Organiser McGuinness seems more than ready to take up the mantle, dubbing himself “the Queen of Matchmaking.” We anticipate a lot of love in the air this weekend!

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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