*Maureen Tara Nelson with Willie Daly. Photograph: Eamon Ward

CLARE’s most famous matchmaker has said he was surprised but very excited to receive recognition from the US Government.

Maureen Tara Nelson, the leading Irish-American Matchmaker from New York City visited the Matchmaking Festival in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, Ireland to meet and honour Willie Daly.

She made a special presentation from the US Government to honour the Clare man as the last traditional matchmaker in Ireland.

Maureen Tara Nelson is a proud Irish-American and has relatives still living on the Emerald Isle. For over 21 years, Maureen Tara Nelson has been considered “New York’s Irish-American Matchmaker” with over 3,000 clients and thousands of success stories during her career.

Willie Daly is all smiles at the presentation in Lisdoonvarna. Photograph: Eamon Ward

For over five decades, Willie has been helping Irish men and women using centuries-old methods and customs. It is estimated that he has made 3,000 matches.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Willie admitted, “I would have to say I was very surprised because I don’t know anyone in the US Government, what I do is extremely modest, I’m continuing an old tradition. I got a phonecall and then an email saying it was the US Government, I didn’t know if it was Trump or Biden, I’m not into politics”.

“It almost points out the fact that it’s unique to Ireland. It was common,” Willie noted. “I do travel around the world a bit with the matchmaking, to be honest you could almost say a lot of people have a certain intrigue about it, it wouldn’t be in their culture”.

For Maureen to travel such “a long way” to mark the occasion added to the appreciation felt by the Lisdoonvarna man.

On this year’s Matchmaking Festival in Lisdoonvarna, Willie remarked that it was “interesting” and continued to be “marvellous”. Typically, he would head up to town in the morning and evening to assess the goings on. “A very big percentage came for dancing and meeting friends, a substantial amount of people there were not looking for a wife or a husband”. Dancing took place from 3:30pm to 6:30pm and from 9pm till late, he pointed out.

A longing for a family remains a strong desire of those looking for live in Lisdoonvarna, Willie recounted. “It has been a good opportunity for people to realise what is important, there is a very big return to family life, that is becoming more sought after to have what their grand-parents and parents had”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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