EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: Embrace the madness

EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: Embracing the madnessEDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: Embracing the madness
EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: Embracing the madness
WHAT’S the maddest place you have ever been to?

It doesn’t have to be a city, town or foreign country, it could just be a building and maybe it’s not normally mad at all, but at that moment you were there…

I could pinpoint a good few evenings in pubs or clubs, parties in various houses and I would probably list Marrakech and the annual tar barrelling event in Ottery St Mary, a quiet Devon town which almost literally catches on fire one night a year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the background, nagging away at me though, there is always Lisdoonvarna.

We had been driving round the Burren in County Clare and the quiet spa town had been recommended as a place to visit.

The population is less than 1,000 but it seemed busy and we had difficulty finding a place to park.

As the English do in Ireland, we thought we’d go for a Guinness as we hadn’t had one for about 45 minutes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Irish troubadour Christy Moore had a great song about the music festival that used to take place there but no longer did. It must have been too noisy for them, I said.

As we neared the epicentre of the place there was music though. And singing. And shouting. This place will do. This must be where the craic – as the Irish undoubtedly don’t call it – happens, we thought, having already been somewhat surprised at the amount of people out on the street somewhat dressed up for a weekday afternoon slurp of the Liffey water.

I push open the door and in front of us is hell. Or is it heaven?

I can’t quite tell, but a swirl of dancers are strutting their country and western stuff on a floor sticky from beer spilt by what looks to be at least a couple of hundred drinkers – and they certainly haven’t just nipped out of the office for a lunchtime livener. “Bloody hell, er, bloody hell, er, sorry but, bloody hell...” Well, that’s the question from the previous paragraph answered.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We have, it turns out, walked into the Matchmaker Bar, which conveniently enough given its title just happens to be hosting an event as part of the annual Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, which it transpires attracts 40,000 people every September.

Why? Well, it turns out they’re all on the pull, I mean looking for that perfect life partner. They don’t want a traditional getting to know you drink/meal, they’re not the sort to go speed dating or attempt to snare someone online, no, they’re quite prepared to drink a lot, dance, make arses of themselves and well, if they should be some lucky to end up with someone and that person hasn’t been put off, it’s all good.

It’s been going for around 160 years and was originally started so that country farmers, who didn’t meet many people, just might do that and the advent of cars and public transport (mind you, that wouldn’t help these days) hasn’t put a stop to it.

It’s wild in there. There’s beer flying through the air, shouting, screaming, singing, arguing and it’s not even mid-afternoon.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Thousands of people, hammered, in a small village that makes peak time Ibiza look like Budleigh Salterton, taking part in old-fashioned getting to know you matchmaking.

Not that old-fashioned mind, as original matchmaker Willie Daly started helping the lonely find love by creating a “lucky book” of profiles, a bit like Tinder or Grinder then.

I beat a hasty retreat and head out of town in search of a more cliched craic-dealing joint. So, yes, Lisdoonvarna.

Then again, there was that four-day party in 1988 in Bolton. Oh, and Glastonbury in 19...

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.