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Love in the sun Lisdoonvarna matchmaker heading to Spain in bid to help singles looking for romance

"The Covid... has led to a large amount of people not mixing and not being able to socialise. There are a lot of lonely people out there looking for love at the minute"

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WIllie Daly will be attending a festival in Spain’s Costa Blanca in October.

WIllie Daly will be attending a festival in Spain’s Costa Blanca in October.

WIllie Daly will be attending a festival in Spain’s Costa Blanca in October.

Forget Love Island, when it comes to matching couples, Lisdoonvarna’s Willie Daly is the king of romance.

Now the last of Ireland’s traditional matchmakers is heading for Spain to weave his magic at a ‘Lisdoonvarna in the Sun’ festival in Cabo Roig, Costa Blanca, this October.

“It’s going to be a new experience and I’m excited about it,” Willie tells the Sunday World. “I hope to help couples find love in the sun, but there’ll be a lot of fun anyway.”

Silver-bearded Willie (78) has been responsible for more than 3,000 marriages – and reckons he still beats Tinder for getting lovers together.

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WIllie Daly will be travelling to a festival in Spain’s Costa Blanca in October

WIllie Daly will be travelling to a festival in Spain’s Costa Blanca in October

WIllie Daly will be travelling to a festival in Spain’s Costa Blanca in October

“Most of my matchmaking would be a physical thing,” Willie says. “My role is to get two people together, and then there’s that magic moment when they look into each other’s eyes when maybe having a dance together.

“If you can create that moment when two people meet…they are transfixed, and they can’t take their eyes off each other…that’s the ideal situation. That’s when the magic happens, because love is an energy and it doesn’t hang around.”

Willie has a 150-year-old ledger containing the names and personal details of singles looking for love, but he says that it’s physical attraction that mostly brings couples together.

“I’ve found over a lot of years that the information they give me on their form to help me find someone compatible for them can go out the window when they experience that moment of love.

“That moment is very special, and it can disappear quickly, so it’s important that they are in the room and not on some device.

“I feel that the likes of Tinder are probably grand, but they’re much different to traditional matchmaking.

“My matchmaking introduces the people, and they can look into each other’s eyes and reach out and touch that person. The old traditional matchmaking is very much tried and tested.”

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The Love Doctor is carrying on the tradition of matchmaker handed down by his father and grandfather – and he has helped to make the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival world famous.

It has even inspired an American movie, As Luck Would Have It, featuring Irish actor Allen Leech, who played Tom Branson in Downtown Abbey, and US Actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher, from the Netflix series Sweet Magnolia.

The matchmaking festival has also been referenced in the American TV series, Schitt’s Creek, which featured a Singles Week.

However, silver-bearded Daly, a father-of-eight, takes all the attention in his stride and says it’s the people looking for love who are to be applauded for their persistence.

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Matchmaker Willie Daly getting set up for another evening's Matchmaking at the Matchmaker Bar,Lisdoonvarna.

Matchmaker Willie Daly getting set up for another evening's Matchmaking at the Matchmaker Bar,Lisdoonvarna.

Matchmaker Willie Daly getting set up for another evening's Matchmaking at the Matchmaker Bar,Lisdoonvarna.

“I have people coming to me, whose ages range from late 30s to 60s and beyond. They are lonely, but it’s great to see that they never give up on finding love,” he says. “And when they do find someone it’s a nice reward for us.

“The Covid created a lot more loneliness. There was a big scene in Ireland with social dancing, which had become huge and had created a hunger for love,” Willie says.

“And, of course, that was forced to stop because of Covid. That has led to a large amount of people not mixing and not being able to socialise as much, so there are a lot of lonely people out there looking for love at the minute.”

Willie tells how his famous ‘love ledger’ is also known as a lucky charm – and just rubbing it can have a fairytale ending for lonely hearts.

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The Sunday World’s Deirdre Reynolds with WIllie and his ’love ledger’.

The Sunday World’s Deirdre Reynolds with WIllie and his ’love ledger’.

The Sunday World’s Deirdre Reynolds with WIllie and his ’love ledger’.

“I could say it’s a magic book, but I don’t like saying that. However, I do believe that it gives people great confidence in how they look and how they feel. It creates a newness inside of them…that they look well and that they feel good. They radiate happiness and have great expectation from touching the book.

“A woman got in touch with me last Easter to tell me that she had finally met a partner and was getting married. She’s a hairdresser from England, and she had visited Lisdoonvarna with friends and touched the book.

“She said that six days later she was in a pub that she had frequented a good bit, and a man walked up to her in the bar. She said, ‘Now we’re getting married.’

“The book was started by my grandfather at horse and cattle fairs, and then my father used it at funerals and weddings to get the names of people looking for partners.

“A lot of details from the early days are simple. There’d be a name and then a comment about what the person was looking for in a partner.

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Willie Daly with the ledger that has been passed down the generations.

Willie Daly with the ledger that has been passed down the generations.

Willie Daly with the ledger that has been passed down the generations.

“There’s one from a woman, going back to my grandfather’s time, who said she needed a strong man. It said her mother was bed-ridden and quite a heavy woman, and she would need a strong man to lift her.

“Women in those times were looking for a man who could do ploughing with one or two horses, cut turf and milk cows. Ploughing was a big thing, to be able to produce food for a house.

“In my grandfather’s time wakes were a very big thing, and there was always the possibility of finding a partner for certain people. The wakes would be in house, and as the night would go on it would be like a party.

“That time the drink was poitín and they would be drinking a lot, so it gave single people Dutch courage.

“There’s no question that alcohol in Ireland has done a lot for romance over the years.”

Willie hopes that there will be a scaled down Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in the Clare town this autumn. He will be in Carbo Roig, Spain, from October 19 for Lisdoonvarna In The Sun.

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