A SCARIFF man, who runs pilgrimages to the Holy Land and other religious sites, is to diversify by offering what he describes as “dating tours” to the Ukraine.
James Treacy has teamed up with an American tour operator, A Foreign Affair, which runs so-called “singles introduction tours” to Eastern Europe, South America and Asia. The professional photographer is hoping to bring 30 men to Kiev next year and told The Champion he has already had interest from Clare men looking for wives.
Mr Treacy insisted everyone involved is genuinely looking for long-term love and that there is no question of sex tourism. “The men are vetted by me,” he outlined. “Some of them have never had a girlfriend. They are genuinely looking for wives. This is not a sex tour. The cost of the tour is too high for anyone who isn’t looking for a serious relationship.”
As to the issue of potential exploitation, Mr Treacy said the women involved are often professionals looking to relocate to Ireland. “They are very intelligent women, doctors, dentists and hairdressers,” he said. “They get involved with the dating agency of their own free will. They want to come to Ireland and they are genuine women.”
In relation to the safety of those travelling from Ireland, Mr Treacy accepted it was important to be careful. “I have been to Russia myself and I know that you have to be on alert,” he said. “However, I’ve travelled in many parts of the world, even on pilgrimages, where you’d have to be careful there too.” The website for the dating tour operator, which describes itself as an “international matchmaker”, carries detailed advice on ‘Risks and Responsibilities’ for those intending to travel.
Mr Treacy, who is also planning to run trips to the Holy Land and Fatima next year, already has a draft itinerary for the proposed dating tour. This includes walking tours, social events and free time for dating. While he anticipates taking 30 men, he declined to say how many matches he expects to be made.
When asked if he would be looking for love himself, Mr Treacy said he would “play it by ear”.