15 May 2013
The world famous Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is foing gay for a weekend this summer and I'll be on hand for some of the festivities. I do like to meddle in people's love lives of course, but I'll mostly be sticking to the entertainment and leaving the matchmaking to the prefessionals - in this case fourth generation matchmaker, and Lisdoonvarna mainstay, Willie Daly. It should be great craic, with a few hundred gays down in Clare, and a whole slew of events, from traditional Lisdoonvarna stuff, to traditional gay stuff. The weekend is being run in conjunction with BelongTo, which support LGBT young people.
Info at The Outing's website, and there's a story about it in The Journal today.
And here's the full blurb:
"A new twist on old traditions" - the historic Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival opens with a Gay & Lesbian weekend for the first time.
Drag High-Queen of Ireland, Panti, stepped out in the summer sun this week to launch an exciting first; the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, which has taken place in the small Co. Clare town for over 150 years, is going gay! The historic festival opens its 2013 program with a lesbian and gay weekend dubbed "The Outing", as the town makes plans to welcome LGBT tourists in search of love and merriment in the beautiful Burren landscape. Panti, who will host the weekend as Mistress of Ceremonies and "Queen of Hearts" shared her excitement: "I do love interfering in other people's love lives so I can't wait to get to Lisdoonvarna and start meddling. It's going to be great craic and I expect to be buying quite a few ostentatious wedding hats afterwards"
Many Lisdoonvarna residents and local business owners have already voiced their enthusiasm for what they see as a welcome new twist on the generations-old festival, which looks set to bring a new sector of tourists to the area. Fourth generation matchmaker, Willie Daly, will be present during The Outing's weekend and feels ready to bring some new couples together; "Matchmaking has always been about love", he said.
The Outing comprises a weekend package of hotel accomodation and full entertainment schedule, fusing old Ireland with gay club life as céilís sit next to drag shows and tea dances lead into late night DJ sets. Event Directors Eddie McGuinness and Dónal Mulligan have worked with club events for several years and say that the unique and novel fusion on offer here was what enticed them to put together The Outing. "Traditional Irish events like céilí dances have had it right for hundreds of years", says Mulligan, "they're a perfect way to meet new people in a lively, comfortable and fun atmosphere. We're taking the best of old Ireland - music, dancing and matchmaking - and putting it together with the variety of entertainment on offer in the LGBT community. We think it's going to be a very effective combination!"
McGuinness and Mulligan are working together with BelongTo, whose work they hope to raise awareness of and funding for through "The Outing". BelongTo is an organisation that assists LGBT young people in Ireland by building support networks and creating educational campaigns on issues like homophobic bullying in schools. BelongTo is currently in the process of setting up regional support groups for young people in many rural towns across the country and has already seen other similarly warm receptions toward the gay community in other small towns.
Tickets at €199 per person sharing, and comprising a 3-star hotel stay and access to the full program of festival events at The Outing's Matchmaking Weekend, go on sale next week.