Lisdoonvarna in the sun

What began as a somewhat off the wall idea between two local businessmen grew into a weeklong festival of love, music and out-and-out ‘craic’. The Lisdoonvarna in the Sun festival took place all last week, drawing to a close on Monday evening. Organisers Brian Kiernan and Dermot Moore felt that Cabo Roig and La Zenia needed a boost after the impact the global pandemic had on local bars, all of which are heavily reliant on the tourism industry. The pair decided to fly Ireland’s famous matchmaker Willie Daly, and two of his daughters Elsha and Judy, to Spain for a week long matchmaking festival. The original Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival has taken place every year in Co Claire in Ireland for almost 200 years. With the event cancelled for the second year running due to Covid, Brian and Dermot decided to take a chance and invite Willie to Spain instead.
Willie told the Costa Blanca People that when he first got the invite, he had to “think on it…for about five seconds!” He knew nothing of the area, or what the week would entail – but he prefers it that way and likes to let events unfold naturally. Willie’s role in Ireland sees him match prospective singles based on his experience and intuition, taking into account their interests and personality. The physical experience of meeting someone in the flesh is key to the process, said Willie, something which modern day apps and websites cannot provide. Willie thinks there is a ten minute ‘barrier’ when people first meet – that short period of awkwardness which he feels can be broken down best by dancing. “Once bodies bump together on the dance floor, you’ll have a fair idea if you like a person or not,” he explained.
As we spoke to Willie and his daughters (one of whom, Elsha, is earmarked to perhaps take over the family tradition passed to Willie by his father and grandfather) people were lining up to touch the ‘lucky book’ a 150 year old tome containing the details of thousands of matches. Others, hoping to find love during the festival, passed Willie a completed matchmaking form. Meanwhile, his phone was ringing, a call from a rural Irish farmer looking for love. Willie explained that he had “just the lady” in mind for the caller and he would make arrangements on his return home.
Everywhere Willie went this week, people arrived, and he had time for everyone – a smile, a photo and a few words of wisdom. There were singles looking for love as well as couples and groups of friends wanting to join in the fun and enjoy the live music, but not necessarily searching for a match. The bars involved were delighted with the turnout and with an estimated 800 arrivals from Ireland for the festival alone, it is no wonder. Not only that but the festival was covered in almost every major Irish newspaper and radio station – putting Orihuela Costa on the map. Organiser Brian Kiernan said, “Ryanair had to put on another flight such was the demand for this week! The bars involved were packed out every night and everyone was happy with the attendance – so much so we’re going to do it all again next year from the 18th to the 25th of October!”