L J Sexton
I RECENTLY had a frank discussion about ‘dating’ with my kids and a couple of their pals, who told me that despite the modern age of dating sites like Tinder or Bumble they’d much prefer to meet someone the old fashioned way; ya know, eyes lock across a crowded room and all that craic. They also concluded that online dating is going out of fashion and isn’t as popular as it once was. The novelty has worn off it seems.
The conversation took place as I was dropping them at the bus station as they headed off to a music festival in Perth. Now if you knew the way my brain worked then you would understand why this got me to thinking about ‘matchmaking’ and I made the jokey suggestion that they should be taking themselves off to Lisdoonvarna in County Clare—made famous by Christy Moore’s song— for the biggest singles festival in Europe, which is held throughout the month of September. Whether you’re 18 or 80 and single, this apparently is the place to be!
Two years ago hubby and I did an Irish road trip and as we came down the west coast along the Wild Atlantic Way we stopped in Lisdoonvarna. What I’d say about Lisdoonvarna is that it’s your fairly typical Irish village with a short main street and about two dozen pubs, but other than The Matchmaker Bar painted a bright shade of orange, you’d never believe that this place transforms into a bustling ballroom of romance for a whole month every year.
The festival has ran for over 160 years (I’d call that a success) and the current ‘Matchmaker’ himself is a man by the name of Willie Daly who claims that if you come to visit him in his office—The Matchmaker Bar—and touch his lucky book with both hands that you’ll be married within six months. That’s one hell of a promise isn’t it? I’ve never been myself, for obvious reasons, but sure I wouldn’t mind going ‘just for the craic.’
Another stop off was Cong, in County Mayo where the movie, The Quiet Man was made. This film is right up there as one of my all-time favourites—alongside Grease—and I’d say there aren’t many Irish who aren’t familiar with The Quiet Man. If you’re not, then this begs the question: have you been living your entire life with your head in the bog? It was directed by John Ford and starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, but what many people won’t know is, the screenplay was written off the back of a short story written by a man called Maurice Walsh and was published almost 20 years earlier in 1933 in the Saturday Evening Post. Ford read the story and the rest is the epic movie he gifted us in 1952.
What appealed to my younger self and still to this day is the ‘romance,’ which is at the heart of the movie’s plot and theme. I’m an old fashioned gal at heart and so the idea of a uniquely funny little character like Michaeleen Óg Flynn, the ‘Matchmaker,’ orchestrating a dalliance between the feisty stubborn red head, Mary Kate Dannagher and the tall handsome Irish-American, Sean Thornton… well simply put, this lights my fire. After all, isn’t it love that makes the world go around and not money? But this is so ironic because central to the conflict in the movie is exactly that… money! Mary Kate refuses to consummate the marriage because she doesn’t have her dowry, her hard saved cash and her personal belongings around her in the new marital home, ‘White O’ Morn’ cottage. I could go on and on about this movie so I’ll stop there, but if you haven’t seen it, well then you haven’t lived. It’s a classic.
When speaking with my own friends about modern dating, I’ve had a real mixed bag of replies and experiences. My very good friend, Mags, who lives in Donegal was lucky enough to meet her fella when he came to paint her house. I mean how jammy is that? She didn’t even have to go looking. But whenever I hear the phrase ‘he paints houses,’ I now associate it with the movie, The Irishman with Robert de Niro and Al Pacino, because someone who paints houses is code for being an ‘assassin.’ Cracks me up!
Another couple of single friends have done the whole Tinder thing—one or two successes, way more disasters. One guy insisted they eat at Pizza Express, this was because he wanted to go halfers on the bill which he paid with vouchers he’d been given as a present. Well I tell ya, just as well it wasn’t me he took to Pizza Express coz I’d have been on an express train right outta there. I’d cope better with halitosis than I would with a miserable tight-arsed man. Cardinal bloody sin if you ask me. Another friend was whisked away to a fancy hotel for the weekend, only to find out that her new man was booked into another hotel where his company conference was being held. Turns out he was keeping her existence on the low down because he did indeed have a wife and family back home in Loserville. Feckin chancer.
Another story that tops both of these was my friend was sitting in the office surrounded by colleagues and a new girl who had just started a month before was relaying her story about this gorgeous new guy she had met on Tinder and how much she liked him, how handsome he was, how kind he was bla bla bla. Anyway someone asked to see a photo of him and as the girl’s phone was passed around the office, the guys own wife who worked with my pal saw the photo. In that instance her life was turned on its head. Yip her husband was on Tinder for all to see and the poor new employee ceased to boast. From one who tends to look for the humour in most situations, I looked, but I did not find it.
My married friends are sometimes too frank and utterly hilarious when discussing the probability of dating if they were ever to find themselves single again.
“Listen, I was already married to Old Nick, why would I want to go out with his brother?”
“If Saint Anthony came down from Heaven and his ass lined with gold, I still wouldn’t take on another man.”
And my personal favourite: “I’d rather have a cup of tea and a chunkie Kit-Kat.”
My personal retort to the possibility of such an eventuality: “I’d rather read a good book.” What can I say? I love books. Well there’s that and the threat of my husband haunting me for the rest of my life… or so he says. Hahaha!
Seriously though, if you are looking for love perhaps entrusting yourself to the fate of a ‘matchmaker’ wouldn’t be such a bad idea. And I don’t mean a mischievous drunk like Michaeleen Óg Flynn, I mean someone who knows you well, a good friend that you trust. Someone who wouldn’t match you up with Mr or Mrs Pizza Express. Alternatively you could head over to Lisdoonvarna. Sure the world’s your oyster. Go for it. After all there’s somebody out there for everyone, unless you’re Mr Tight Arse Pizza Express. So remember love really does make the world go round!
Happy matchmaking y’all or enjoy your chunky Kit-Kat folks!
L J Sexton, mum of four, returned to university to pursue her passion for the written word. She achieved her Honours Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and hasn’t stopped writing since. Lyn is born of Irish parents and lived in Donegal for eight years. She is also the press officer for Irish Minstrels CCÉ music group based in St Roch’s Secondary School