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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The traditional matchmaking festival for farmers

With the days of summer ending, Irish farmers will have brought in their main crop. My trusted housekeeper one year while I was still married to my farmer told me about a tradition that is kept to this day in the farming community around this time of year. A bachelor farmer would ride on his tractor to the big matchmaking festival of the year in Lisdoonvarna...and come home with a bride next to him. Lacking other opportunities in the olden days, it oftentimes was a great outlet for merrymaking for rural folks who lived rather isolated and even to find a spouse. Clare's tourist website calls it the holy grail of romance and lonely souls.
After separating from Mac as I call him here and opening my marriage bureau I had to go and see for myself if this was true and how it worked. A nice weekend out in Co. Clare, the West of Ireland anyways and I needed to do research being in the business myself.
The festival takes place for almost 4 weeks from September to October. I went with one of my employees to check out the local scene and also met with the big name in the business, Bill Daly. He was THE matchmaker of some renown who claimed to be responsible for thousands of marriages. As the new kid on the block who was making an all year round professional business out of matchmaking, he didn't take me seriously. That year he was officially introducing his daughter as his successor-- but only for the time of the festival. No advanced dating service all over the country like mine was planned. They were merely upholding tradition.
People come from all over Ireland, Northern Ireland voices and American accents were also heard. The whole town was involved, mostly in the pubs, drinking and flirting. We attended the biggest event of them all: the election of the Bachelor of the year. After a few rounds of questions the candidates were asked to sing a song of their choice and show off their dancing skills with the lasses. After half an hour of suspended animation the room was presented with the winner. I forget his name, it's irrelevant. But what sticks in my memory is that he was found out to be a married man pulling out his ring and drawing his wife onto the dance floor, giving her a big smacker of a kiss. Nobody but my staffer and I was really outraged. Nobody but us had taken this charade seriously.A Brigadon gone terribly wrong,but the craig is mighty. You might still go for the horse racing and carousing. And the Irish are famous for having fun!

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