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Hosts Eddie McGuinness and Paul Ryder interviewing contestants in the Blind Date show, part of The Outing's last outing in 2019.

Clare’s Outing festival bringing LGBTQ+ community together again

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AFTER a break up due to Covid, The Outing Festival returns to Clare this Valentine’s weekend celebrating 10 years of bringing people together.

The Outing Festival, the world’s only Queer (LGBTQ+) Matchmaking Festival is back from February 10 to 12 on the grounds of Dromoland Castle at The Inn at Dromoland.

The world famous festival has grown from its first year in 2013 when it first began as an offshoot of the matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna.

With same-sex marriage equality since 2015, the now-standalone festival has, with the help of Queen of Matchmaking Eddie McGuinness and some teaching from the legendary Willie Daly, brought together hundreds of couples and even a few marriages, with a few more on the way.

Over the years the Outing Festival has developed into an even bigger event by bringing the LGBTQ+ plus community and friends together in the areas of arts, music, film, comedy plus outdoor activities including hiking, surfing, watersports to horse riding, golf and more.

However the heart of the festival remains the matchmaking and bringing people, no matter who they are or what their backgrounds, together.

“Going into our 10th year as a festival we never stopped bringing people together,” said founder Eddie, aka Mr Pride.

“Even in Covid with going online and showcasing amazing singer-songwriters to artists and a bit of Fabulous Drag from Panti to Ru Paul Ryder to Carrie Deweyy, or bringing in international drag artists with an Irish connection.

“This is a new twist on an old tradition with an extra Rainbow put in to make things happen. It’s not easy to find someone of like-mindedness out there online or offline before Covid and since Covid but this is what we do here at The Outing Festival.”

The festival has visited Pride events around Ireland as well as hosting a Géilí – a trad session with Irish dancers in Panti Bar – every year for Dublin Pride.

It has even gone to London, Manchester and Vienna with hopes of heading to World Pride in Sydney Australia next year.

The Outing Festival’s love for Eurovision will keep growing with headline performances by winners Linda Martin on the Friday night and Niamh Kavanagh on the Saturday night who is returning to the festival for her third appearance.

Some of the hosts over the ten years have been Panti Bliss, Brendan Courtney, Alan Hughes and over the last few years Paul Ryder has co-hosted alongside Eddie McGuinness.

“At the core of the festival is bringing people and artists together who are Irish or with an Irish connection or hope to have one by the end of the festival,” said Eddie.

“This is a fusion of Queer arts and culture plus that safe space you know you can chat and meet someone from the LGBTQ+ community in a beautiful part of West Ireland in County Clare.”

Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Ireland in 1993, but in May 2015, the country became the first in the world to legalise gay marriage by popular vote, and it did so resoundingly with 62% voting in favour. County Clare voted 58% in favour.

Seven years or more later there have been marriages and engagement parties after meeting at The Outing Festival, said Eddie.

“This is like a Gay Butlins with even more glitter and camp,” he concluded. For more see www.theouting.ie

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