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Cancellation of Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival leaves hit of €2.5m for local economy

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Organisers of the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival have confirmed the festival will not be going ahead this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

The festival which takes places in September attracts crowds of more than 80,000 annually and this year’s headline acts would have included country music stars Nathan Carter, Derek Ryan, Mike Denver and Cliona Hagan. It is the last big festival of the year to be cancelled.

The announcement comes following the government’s postponement of phase four of “Reopening Ireland” which would have permitted indoor gatherings of 100 people and 500 people outdoors – this has now been deferred to August 10th.

“After careful consideration and following the government’s latest recommendations we have decided to cancel the event. It is regrettable but our primary responsibility is to protect the health and safety of the local community as well as staff, artists, suppliers and visitors” said Marcus White Managing Director of the White Hotel Group.

The iconic festival which is over 160 years old attracts tens of thousands of people from Ireland and overseas who flock to the event to enjoy socialising and find love.

“Social distancing would be impossible to implement at festival like Lisdoonvarna where pubs and clubs are crowded and intimate dancing is one of the attractions for visitors. There are a lot of singles and couples, from all generations who are going to be very disappointed, but I think everyone will understand that the risk is simply too high.”

Marcus added, “I know a lot of people were hoping it would go ahead this year, despite as every other major social event being cancelled. The festival brings so much joy to people, who come to find love or and reconnect with friends before the long winter months roll in. The lack of social events this year is devastating and I think the mental health repercussions will be huge, especially in rural Ireland. Since the lockdown began loneliness and isolation is now affecting more people than ever before. People thrive on social connections and that is why Lisdoonvarna has kept its appeal for so many years.”

The cancellation of the festival will also be felt deeply by many businesses in the area as it brings in more than €2.5 million annually to the local economy. This includes B&Bs, hotels, pubs, shops, restaurants, cafes and tourist attractions in the North Clare area.

“It is devastating for many local businesses who depend on the festival every year for their survival. 2019 was our busiest and most successful Lisdoonvarna festival ever. This year was gearing up to be equally as good, with very strong bookings coming in from Ireland and overseas particularly for our country music weekends,” he said.

However despite the current uncertainty, Mr White said he was remaining positive for 2021. “Next year we have booked the same acts which include international DJ’s, Country music performers and show bands. The plan is to make next year’s festival bigger and better than ever.” he concluded.

Elaine has been a member of staff with The Clare Echo since its foundation in October 2017. The paper's first Chief Reporter, the Kilrush woman is now working as a sub-editor in our busy newsroom. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Limerick with a Masters in Journalism. Elaine briefly worked with the RTE Investigations Unit on the Standards in Public Office investigation before returning to Clare to continue her career as a reporter with the Clare People where she spent nine months as the West Clare correspondent and also covered the 2016 General Election and 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

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