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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
Romantics flock to Irish festival
By James Helm
BBC News website, Dublin

Roses
The festival in Ireland leads to many people getting married
An annual match-making festival, which has been held for more than 150 years, has kicked off in the west of Ireland.

The event attracts thousands of would-be romantics from around the world to Lisdoonvarna in County Clare.

In the age of computer matchmaking and speed dating, the event in rural County Clare offers a slightly more old-fashioned romantic alternative.

Down the years the festival became known for attracting bachelor farmers who were in search of a bride.

It became the stuff of legends, taking place in a town close to the Atlantic Ocean, which is also known for its rich musical heritage.

Mixing old and new

Today, it pulls in large crowds from Ireland, the UK, the US and elsewhere, with single visitors hoping to meet their perfect match.

Music and a few drinks in the local pubs, including one called The Matchmaker, are central to the traditional festivities.

For Lisdoonvarna it is a great money-spinner, of course.

The event does now utilise modern technology, with a website to assist in the search for love, but it also still uses more traditional techniques.

Visitors can register with the town's matchmaker, Willie Daly, whose father and grandfather were also matchmakers before him.

He will then help with introductions, and let events then take their course.

Mr Daly said that the festival still results in many marriages, and that its appeal has stood the test of time.




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