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Mick Burke, left, pictured with matchmaker Willie Daly, has been travelling to Lisdoonvarna for 70 years looking for "the one".

70 years looking for love in Lisdoon

A BACHELOR farmer, who has been coming to Lisdoonvarna for the past 70 years, is still hopeful he will meet “the one”.

Ninety-two-year-old Mick Burke, a sheep farmer from Borrislea in County Tipperary, first came to Lisdoonvarna with his mother in 1946.

Mick, who was 23 at the time, said, “I fell in love with the atmosphere, the music and the dancing and, of course, the women. After that I was hooked and have been coming back every year since, still hopeful I will meet someone.
“I never married. I had a lot of lucky escapes. I fell in love with several women I met in Lisdoonvarna,” he said.

A pocket-full of phone numbers he picked up on his visits to the Spa town in September was, he said, “ my fodder for the winter”. He had no shortage of dates and would go dances but had no notion of getting married.

“I had a few girlfriends over the years; once I was going out with a girl at home but I broke it off before I went to Lisdoonvarna – when I came back that was the end of that relationship.

“Back then, Lisdoonvarna and the month of September were known as the farmers’ holiday – lots of bachelor farmers would come looking for a wife. There was a real rush to get the hay in so you could go to the Spa, as it was known in those days. Lisdoonvarna was ‘the place’ to go for a holiday and people would be looking forward to it all year.”

Mick recalls there would be lots of women from American back then, looking for a rich farmer.

“I had 200 acre sheep farm. Once I was dating a woman from Dublin and she came to visit me on the farm; it was particularly bad winter and we got snowed in for a few days. After the snow thawed, she got straight on a train back to Dublin and that was the end of that. I think the remote location put a lot of women off,” said.

Mick said if he had met someone that would have been the end to his trips to Lisdoonvarna.

Over the years Mick met with matchmaker Willie Daly several times but no suitable matches were made.

Willie said, “Mick was a very popular man with the ladies; he really didn’t need my help”.

So what’s Mick looking for? “My ideal woman is someone who is good company and able to dance the razor blade dance…don’t think she has been born yet.  I have to go as far as my eyes can see. I love coming back every year, meeting old friends and dancing and there’s never any trouble here. I would say the best thing about coming to Lisdoonvarna is to come with no expectations and you will never be disappointed.”

Lisdoonvarna is full of great characters like Mick – who have been coming for years. The festival is 160-years-old this year and is still attracting young and old. Indeed, where else in Ireland could you can dance all day, every day for six weeks long?

“We have had a very good September, one of the busiest in years. The festival got off to a fantastic start with the Nathan Carter and Derek Ryan country music weekend and this has continued throughout the whole month. It brought a whole new generation of young people to the festival,” commented hotelier Marcus White.

“Country music, the farming community and Lisdoonvarna go hand in hand.  We have always been one of the top venues in Ireland for country music.  Next year we are planning two big country music weekends and are already in negotiations with some huge stars.

“There is a feeling of positivity back in Ireland that hasn’t been seen in years. I believe the future of Lisdoonvarna is looking really bright and this is good news for the whole community. It benefits hotels, B&Bs, shops and businesses in a 20 mile radius,” Marcus concluded.

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