The magic of Ireland---you just never know what you may encounter driving through a two-lane town in Lisdoonvarna, population 934. In May, while my boyfriend Jeff and I were visiting the Emerald Island, I was flabbergasted to see this billboard---after hopping out of the car for a quick picture, a kilometer later we bumped into the Matchmaking Pub.
It was too early to be open (I thought pubs in Ireland opened at the crack of dawn) but I just knew I needed to talk with the man featured on the pub’s windows and what a treat I was in for!
Every year, (you still have time!), beginning September 1, Willie Daly holds a matchmaking convention where 40,000 plus singles descend upon Lisdoonvarna, County Clare. And what exactly happens? Lots.
Here you will meet Willie Daly, the 80-year-old matchmaker in a tiny village in Ireland, who is a 3rd generation matchmaker, inheriting his skills from his “da” and grandfather. Willie has over 60 years of experience and has a book, well-thumbed and tied together, full of eligible matches of singles, widows, divorcees from around the world, aged 24-85! (Ha, I thought I had experience with my 30 years as a dating and relationship coach!).
Of course, I called him that afternoon with Jeff looking at me like I was nuts.
And, what a charmer this man Willie Daly is!
And here’s what he told me after asking if I was single---he also told me with my “perky and happy” voice, I’d do quite well attracting men who came from around the world for his annual love fest. I giggled.
A few facts:
· It’s a fairly even ratio of men to women that sign up
· It’s been going on for over 150 years, beginning in 1857
· Oh, the activities planned! This isn’t a stand around a pub striking up conversations with strangers. Willie keeps you busy and there is quite a schedule from the opening evening at The Ritz with live music and dancing outside on the street, one on ones with Willie, speed dating, daily matchmaking with personal introductions by Willie, sporting events, horse racing, ceili (a form of traditional group dancing) and more
· Willie holds appointments in his pub, making his matches, letting you peruse his matchmaking book of potential mates
Here’s what Willie told me:
1. He had so many heart-warming stories. One from last year where two 38-year-old New York women, both Jewish, met their mates and have since married. One to an Irish farmer. The other to a Guiness Beer executive.
2. A recently widowed 61 year old woman from Newport Beach, Ca was introduced to a local horse breeder---and has since made her home near the freezing Atlantic Coast of Galway.
Excerpt from our Phone Chat: (which I’d have been happy to talk to him for hours, so positive and charismatic)
Andrea: What advice would you give women for finding the love of their life? Would the advice you give American women be any different?
Willie: Be patient. It takes time to find the love of your life---but it can also happen instantly. For the American women, learn the gift of being a tiny bit more open-minded. Don’t be judgmental and also don’t have a picture of a man in your mind, then it will happen when you least expect it. You can never be too old to find love.
Andrea: Do Irish men approach dating differently than American men?
Willie: Yes. Irish men are not as intense and have happy natures. I also find that true with Italian men over the years.
Andrea: What's a typical first date look like between an Irish man and Irish woman? Willie: Often it could be in the pub ending with a nice bag of chips, it could be a lovely walk by the cliffs, it could be a ride on a tractor if he is a farmer and making hay.
Andrea: What is the biggest turn-off for an Irish woman when dating?
Willie: Having a lovely meal and at the end having to pay for her own.
Andrea: How about a recent matchmaking story?
Willie: Let’s see, I was at a horse fair last month in Ballinasloe and coming up to me was a nice-looking man in his 40’s pushing a stroller with two small children. He said, laughing, “Now, Willie Daly, look at the trouble you got me into” and I replied “What nice trouble to be in”.
Willie just loves what he does---and we shared many laughs on the phone together. He’s a busy man---matchmaking and finding love is his passion for others; he also runs a donkey farm on the side.
Round-trips on Aer Lingus from NYC to Dublin: economy is about $900 and business class around $4,000. Just thought I’d save you some time!
Andrea McGinty is the Founder of It’s Just Lunch which she sold out to private equity after it hit 110 locations worldwide. She started Https://33000Dates.com because she loves working one-on-one with her clients with her dating consulting services for navigating online dating---from writing unique dating profiles, to researching and choosing the right dating app/site for you, to vetting your photos and to teaching you how to send intriguing and quirky messages to get responses online from the type of man/woman you are looking for.
She loves what she does---and many clients have become lifelong friends. Three of her youngest daughter’s closest friends’ parents were fixed up by Andrea! She gives dating advice, relationship advice and is considered a top dating expert in the United States.