Lisdoonvarna; More than Love and Line Dancing? By now most red-blooded Irishman (and women) have heard of the ever famous Willi Daly and his daughters who have taken on the task of matchmaking in Lisdoonvarna. This year’s festival is on from Aug. 28th to Oct. 4th. The festival has already started hoppin’ and the music is pouring out the doors. But what else is there besides love and dancing in Lisdoon says you? A lot says I.
Lios Dhuin Bharna (Lisdoonvarna) literally means the ‘enclosed for in the gap’ or ‘fort of the gapped keep’ and is even more affectionately known as ‘The Spa’. Lisdoonvarna is not only known for its world famous annual Matchmaking Festival but also for its local Irish Cuisine and craft foods. However, the Spa Wells Health Centre is what originally put Lisdoonvarna on the map.
In the early 1700’s a doctor from Limerick discovered the benefits of the spring water in Lisdoonvarna and from there a tourist niche boomed. People started coming from far and wide to drink and bathe in the mineral waters. The waters have rich sources of iron, sulphur, magnesium, and calcium which have been known to benefit certain diseases. Chalybeate springs are known all over the world to possess health-giving properties and this happens to be one of the few in Ireland.
Sitting below the very narrow bridge on the main road through Lisdoonvarna the Spa Wells has a Victorian Pump House, sauna, massage room, and mineral baths. This lovely centre is set alongside the Aille River flowing all the way to Doolin. At present, it is the only active spa in Ireland. The site was closed in 2014 but over the past year, the Victorian Spa house has now re-opened. There is a coffee shop on site and it is open daily with a guide available to fill you in on its 300-year history.
County Clare was given the 2015 EDEN (European Destination of Excellence) award. The Burren Food Trail was launched by the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark and the Burren Ecotourism Network as the Mid West’s first food trail in 2013. The Burren Food Trail is has created a schedule of food events taking place every Monday from May to October.
The events show off the regions cuisine and provide a unique food experience in the amazing landscape that is the Burren. Members of the Food Trail place an emphasis on the use of local ingredients and are committed to building a sustainable future for the region through food. The Burren Smokehouse which specializes in smoked Irish Salmon is blazing the ‘trail’ and has just embarked on a new partnership with UPS to ship the local famous food around the globe. Also, check out Kieran’s Kitchen at the Roadside Tavern for great craft beer and delicious meals.
If food is important to you visit the Burren Food Trail for the delicious details on cuisine in this area get the scoop HERE. There are plenty of events in September and October including at Sea View House Doolin, Roadside Tavern beer tasting, and with Oonaghs Wild Kitchen.
Some facts about Lisdoonvarna you may not know
– It is home to about 1000 people, but its numbers swell in the summer months.
– Spectacle Bridge on the road out to Doolin is named from the double arch that holds the bride up. Get it, spectacle, glasses, and two circles. This gives it is unique look and quite a cool thing to see.
– Leaving Lisdoonvarna and before you reach the Cork Screw Hill you will find Cahermacnaghten fort which dates back to 500ce. This gem has had a diverse history. It was first a home to a wealthy landowner but like many forts then fell into disrepair. After being rebuilt in the 1400’s with some use it was used again in the 1600’s it was used as a base for O’Davoran’s Law School of which evidence of this use can be seen today. Evidence of the reuse of the site can be seen inside where the ground level is raised some 2m above the surrounding fields. The walls are constructed of immensely large blocks of stone, but very ruinous now. Inside you can see where the foundations of the 17th-century rectangular house once stood.
– The Matchmaking Festival is Europe’s largest singles festival.
– Lisdoonvarna is close to many major tourist attractions in the area such as The Cliffs of Moher, Aillwee Cave in Ballyvaughan, and The Burren Centre in Kilfenora. Also, the town is a short hop from Doolin and our Aran Islands Ferry Service. In the busy summer months, this is a fantastic option if you can’t find accommodation in Doolin. Reserve your ferry tickets HERE.
However if we haven’t convinced you yet there is more to Lisdoonvarna than set dancing, tight jeans and cat calling and you’re still looking for love in all the wrong- I mean right places then we’ll leave you with some wise words from the Guru himself;
“Love is waiting there for everyone, its there just waiting to be found”.