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This ‘Love and Marriage’ section is intended to be lighthearted. It is certainly not about formal weddings, with their conspicuous expenditure and ridiculous outfits. What is going on is, for the most part, in the captions. However you might like to know something about the Matchmaking.

Lisdoonvarna, on the astonishing Burren, a hundred square mile limestone pavement in Co Clare, became a spa town in the middle of the 19th century and attracted many visitors to take the waters. Irish men were notoriously shy with women and in any case, being isolated agricultural workers they had few opportunities to meet any. It’s true I’m tellin’ yis. It became their habit, after the harvest was safely gathered in, to head for the nearest town to look for a wife. Professional matchmaking was then widespread in Ireland - and still is in some other cultures and rampantly on the web, though the term seems to be moving on to businesses who might marry happily. Lisdoonvarna, with plenty of visiting females on show, had become a popular matchmaking centre by 1900, particularly in September, the whole affair had a high success rate and had acquired custom status – which it still enjoys even if the hopefuls have become less shy and the matchmakers have dwindled away. Today the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival has become an almighty ‘singles’ party with dancing every day from ‘midday until the small hours’. Thousands of people come from all over the world, for the ‘craic’ and the Guinness, but few for a permanent mate. Christy Moore even wrote a song about it. However, to Collections it sounds like hell on earth, and to many locals too who either arrange to be as far away from Lisdoonvarna as possible - or stay and make as much money out of the festival as they can. Meanwhile musical folkies might like to know that Doolin, mecca of Irish traditional music in the ‘West Clare style’ (whatever that is) is no more than four miles away.