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A Place to 'Meet, Match and Make a Life'

The festival has been held every year since 1857 and attracts singles and couples from all over the world.

Twin Wells



at Lisdoonvarna Festival

Iron & Magnesia Wells


Victorian Visitors


The Hydro Hotel


Spa House & Baths


Photo Credit: Clare Library

Lisdoonvarna and Matchmaking

While the Festival has very much come of age over the years, moving with the times to appeal to people of all ages – its essence as a place to 'meet, match and make a life' remains true.

History of the Festival

Matchmaking is an Irish tradition that's as old as time. It began in Lisdoonvarna when visiting gentry came to 'take the waters' at this spa town and looked to match their children with someone suitable from the upper classes. Parents would bring their children together at social gatherings, sporting events and musical evenings – and all being well, courtships would blossom.

The opening of the West Clare Railway in 1887 meant Lisdoonvarna increased in popularity as a tourist destination and the matchmaking tradition grew. With the harvest safely in and September being the peak holiday month, many bachelor farmers began to flock to Lisdoonvarna for a spa town vacation – and in search of a wife.

The Lisdoonvarna festival in Victorian times was a much smaller affair than it is today. The town was a small village and the festival was quite a local event, with people travelling from the surrounding area to attend. The main attraction was the music, with traditional Irish music and dancing taking place in the town square. There were also some competitions such as horse racing, and the festival was a great opportunity for people to catch up with old friends and meet new people. The festival was also a great opportunity for local businesses to promote their products and services, with stalls selling food and drink and other products.