With The Outing LGBT Music & Matchmaking Festival fast approaching we caught up with Willie Daly, matchmaker extraordinaire, to see how he gets on helping LGBT people meet their matches
“Somewhere in his seventies” (in his own words), Clare native Willie Daly has worked as a matchmaker for over 50 years, and is an iconic annual presence at the century and a half old Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. This year, as in the past three, he will be on hand at The Outing LGBT Music & Matchmaking festival in the town to hopefully get some same-sex love on the books.
All my life I saw matchmaking going on. In the past it generally arose from a need. From the woman’s perspective it would be to have a roof over her head. A lot of men were left properties to continue the family name.
Lisdoonvarna was always matchmaking town, and the festival has been going for nearly 150 years. It provides a place for people to have a holiday in the autumn of the year. That’s part of it, the relaxation.
Older Men, Younger Women
In the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s a young woman who came to the festival might have dreamed of the likes of Gregory Peck or Frank Sinatra, very good looking men, but indeed it might have been a man of 60 or 70 she ended up getting married to.
The older men in many cases would have been very fond of the younger women. She mightn’t have felt the same, but he would have been a provider.
The Gay Bachelor
When I was young we had The Gay Bachelor Festival in Ballybunion. It was very prestigious to be named a gay bachelor.
When the gay matchmaking festival came to Lisdoonvarna, people here were thinking it might be the same kind of thing.
At the first Outing I must admit I did revert to what I’d been doing for over 50 years.
A woman would come to me and I’d say, not being smart or anything, ‘Jesus, I know a fella that would suit you’. The women at The Outing didn’t want to hear that.
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Love Is Love
It was fairly new for me when a man would walk up to me and say, ‘Willie, can you nd me a man?’
But at the main festival there would have been no year over the past decade that some man didn’t walk in and say he was looking for another fella.
There’s no difference in that they’re looking to meet someone they’re attracted to, looking for someone to love.
I think what I offer to the people who come to The Outing is a kind of curiosity, rather than a traditional matchmaking service.
There were a few surprises, where I heard for the rst time about transgender people, for instance. I didn’t know anything about that before.
There were some people who were more outgoing, who requested a number of partners.
That (Giant Cartoon) Woman
It’s all very colourful. There’s great parties going on in town during it, very entertaining evenings.
A lot of people I know from town attend the shows, with that woman, what’s her name? Miss Panti.
Matchmaking Then & Now
Matchmaking has changed, and it hasn’t at the same time. During the Celtic Tiger years it was all about love and passion.
A very strong physical attraction was the most important thing.
Now it’s gone back again; people ask questions about nancial security. There’s uncertainty, people are looking for ‘laying hens’; somebody with an income.
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I thought Tinder was a lovely thing; that it was about gentleness and softness. Later I found out it was the name of a thing on your phone.
There’s probably softness in it, but there’s probably harshness in it as well.
You can’t look into the person’s eyes; it’s all about pressing buttons.
Matchmaking men and women is what I’ve done all my life, and it’s always ongoing so it doesn’t give me a lot of time to cross over and learn about the gay end of things.
I’m so busy and I’m not computerised, so it isn’t easy to get on top of it.
I’m sure as time progresses I’ll get to know a lot.
I haven’t succeeded in making a gay match yet, but I’m sure if the event keeps coming to Lisdoonvarna, I eventually will.
How Willie Works
As with the ordinary festival, I have a table that I set up and a person will come to me and tell me what kind of person they’d like, and I’ll try to make a match.
The last match I made was between a woman who was 66 and a man who was 43. I think marriage isn’t a hundred miles away for them.
In the early years it was very much the opposite way around, with older men and younger women, but it’s very common now in my general matchmaking that women in their 50s and 60s are attracting younger men.
A good match would be based in respect. Love and respect are closely related.
What I do is about a big thing in everyone’s life. People deserve to be happy. Everyone deserves to nd love.
The Outing LGBT Music and Matchmaking Festival runs in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare from October 7 to 9. Full details and booking at www.theouting.ie
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