The Magical Town of Lisdoonvarna

Nestled in the heart of the Burren region in Co. Clare, the magical town of Lisdoonvarna is sure to deliver a spectacular getaway from normal life to all of its visitors. So beloved by its people and visitors, the town of Lisdoonvarna even has a song written about it, titled “Lisdoonvarna” that is sung by Christy Moore. Whether you’re looking for a chance to relax in the infamous spa, or search for the love of your life in Europe’s biggest matchmaking festival, Lisdoonvarna has something for everyone

Lisdoonvarna: the ‘Spa Town’

Lisdoonvarna first established itself as a tourist town more than a century ago, when it was discovered that the water had beneficial qualities for those who drank it or bathed in it. The effects of the minerals in the water were first noted by writers before the middle of the eighteenth century, around the 1740s. The first recorded analysis of this mystical water was made some years later, around 1751.

Around this time, a top Limerick surgeon made this discovery known and began using the water in his practice. People began to travel from far and wide to drink and bathe in this water. As the water was rich in iron, sulphur and magnesium, it had a reputation for being able to give relief from the symptoms of diseases like rheumatism and glandular fever.

The Royal Spa Hotel was built in 1832 and began taking in guests later that same year. It was around this spa hotel that the village of Lisdoonvarna was later developed. Today, Lisdoonvarna is the only active spa town remaining in Ireland, with many people still travelling to the small town to avail of the many services offered there. The hotel has also been listed as a Co. Clare Heritage building, because it was the first hotel built in the sparsely settled area.

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Image via Facebook

The spa town today

Guests can still visit and stay at the Royal Spa Hotel today. It is a small twelve-bedroom hotel that is located in the centre of the town of Lisdoonvarna and fifty minutes by car from Shannon airport. The hotel is also located within walking distance of shops, the church, the pharmacy, pubs, and the local amenity park.

Each room in the Royal Spa Hotel is equipped with free wifi, a telephone, tea and coffee making facilities, and a multi channel TV. It should also be important for guests to note that all of the rooms are non-smoking rooms.

The rates of these rooms are €55 per person sharing and €80 for a single room, and the hotel is not suitable for Hen or Stag parties.

Room available in The Royal Spa Hotel. Image via TripAdvisor

The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is the biggest matchmaking festival in Europe. It takes place in the small town of Lisdoonvarna on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way every September. This month-long festival invites singles from all over the world to join together in the search for love, and promises a fun filled month of activities. With the festival being over 165 years old, it is no wonder that it is Europe’s most trusted matchmaking festival for those in search of love.

The Hydro Hotel is usually the main venue for the matchmaking festival. It is a 3-star hotel that is located in the heart of the town. With 110 rooms, the Hydro Hotel offers guests a place to escape from their everyday lives and enjoy a relaxing stay in Lisdoonvarna. Unfortunately however, the Hydro Hotel will be closed for the Matchmaking Festival this year.

The famous Matchmaker Bar, located in the Imperial Hotel, is where festival goers will find the third-generation matchmaker, Willie Daly. He is Ireland’s most famous matchmaker, and started working as a matchmaker over 50 years ago, when he took over the business from his father in the 1960s. During his time as a matchmaker, he has set up around 3,000 marriages. Back then, the matchmaking process involved finding matches for shy farmers. 

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Matchmaker Willie Daly with his ‘Lucky Book’. Image via naratively.

Today, however, the matchmaking process is slightly different, and both the town and Willie Davis invite everyone to find love. Willie also carries around his ‘Lucky Book’, a notebook of love-seeking profiles which is about 150 years old. It is believed that if you touch the notebook, you will be married within the next six months, and if you are already married, you will recreate the honeymoon period you once experienced. During the month-long festival, live bands and music will be available for anyone looking to dance and have the ‘craic’.

The Rathbaun Hotel, located on Main Street, also offers live Irish music and songs. The festival lineup in the Rathbaun Hotel promises a fun-filled afternoon, with artists such as Declan Aungier, Colm Aungier, Peter Burke, Tommy O’Flaherty, Glen Flyn, and Noel O’Briody playing there during the festival.

The Ritz Hotel is another location for festival goers to mingle and listen to live music. This family-owned hotel promises live music and dancing throughout the day in the hotel’s function room and ballroom. The musicians set to play in this venue are Sean Brennan, Mike Condon, Eddie Keogh, Ger Long, Country DJ Richie, Lawrence Campion, Colin Burke, Eugene Cunningham and Brendan Magee.

The Ravine Hotel is another option for festival goers both for somewhere to stay during the festival as well as somewhere to listen to live music. This hotel also offers free onsite parking for anyone who needs it. For the festival, Sean Boland, Seams Moore and Christy & Dennis are set to play.

The Roadside Tavern, which is one of the oldest pubs in the region, will also host various live country bands throughout the festivities. If you’re looking for a change in scenery, right next door is The Burren Storehouse which is a large food and music venue that frequently hosts gigs and live music events. Keep an eye out for the festival lineup that is sure to be released soon, closer to the event.

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The Burren Storehouse. Image via Facebook

Whether you’re looking to have a relaxing weekend in this magical spa town, or searching for the love of your life, why not travel down to Co. Clare and visit Lisdoonvarna? If you’re looking for any further information, do not hesitate to contact the Matchmaking Festival at

Have you visited this beautiful Irish town? Tell us about it in the comments.

Fern Mendoza
Fern Mendoza

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