APPROXIMATELY 40,000 people are expected to attend the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival this month, one local hotelier has claimed.
The renowned festival began last week and among the first guests looking to meet her match was television presenter and journalist, Janet Street Porter.
Ms Street Porter was in the North Clare village on Tuesday and Wednesday last week and her experience was discussed on ITV’s Loose Women on Monday. She also wrote about her trip looking for love in Lisdoonvarna in her column in the Daily Mail.
Ms Street Porter introduced the festival, and the art of traditional matchmaking, to a British audience. The four-time divorcee was matched with John Richardson, who she described as “a very attractive, single, professional man”.
Marcus White of the Hydro Hotel believes her visit is already having repercussions for businesses in the area and for the festival itself.
“It was fantastic to get someone as high-profile as Janet Street Porter come to the matchmaking festival. She was very positive about her experience. The British market is very important for Lisdoonvarna and already we are seeing the results,” he said.
The traditional matchmaking festival continues throughout the month of September with the Outing, the LGBT matchmaking weekend, which was held for the first time last year, moved from the beginning to the end of the festival. It will now take place over the first weekend in October.
“For the rest of the matchmaking festival, we will have weekends and midweek dancing. It is very important to mention that you don’t have to be single. This festival is for everyone. Lots of older couples come here for the daytime dancing,” Mr White stated.
“There will also be three weeks of traditional matchmaking and then the last weekend is for the LGBT community. It was a new concept last year but it was very successful so we are holding it again,” he added.
The hotelier is eager to stress that the festival is for all ages. “It has something for everyone,” he said.
“This Saturday night, for example, in the Hydro Hotel we have two DJs under one roof, as well as Kentucky singer, Buck Taylor in the restaurant and the Lisdoonvarna Showband in the ballroom, so there is something for every generation,” he continued.
Mr White said organisers had hoped to attract another well-known Briton for the Outing but were unsuccessful.
“Last year, we wrote to Stephen Fry but his representatives came back to us and said he wasn’t in a position to come for that weekend. We were delighted they even acknowledged us,” he added.
Mr White is hopeful the 2014 Rose of Tralee might attend this year’s event.