Lisdoonvarna is a spa town in north County Clare on the road from Ennistymon to Ballyvaughan . It is famous for its September festival; Europes biggest singles matchmaking festival.
The festival runs for the full month of September and there is live music and dancing in all the pubs and hotels day and night. Local match-maker Willie Daly (a fourth generation matchmaker) is on hand daily. Matchmaking became one of the main activities of Lisdoonvarnas holiday-makers. September was, and still is, one of the peak months of the holiday season and with the harvest safely in bachelor farmers flocked to Lisdoonvarna in search of wives. Matchmakers prospered as matches were contrived and marriages made.
Lisdoonvarna and the festival became very famous in the 1980's for a series of annual concerts. They were performed in a natural outdoor amphitheatre in the area by Ireland and some of the worlds most popular and talented musicians. A song composed about the festival by Christy Moore was the origin of the phrase – “If it's music you want - go to Clare"
The village has a wide selection of pubs in which many have music throughout the summer months. As for accommodation, there is a wealth in Lisdoonvarna from many Hotels and bed and breakfasts to hostels and self catering accommodation. There is also many restaurants to choose from.
The area became a popular health resort in the early nineteenth century owning to its mineral wells, there was no earlier village, just a few scattered cottages. which makes it a comparatively young village by Irish standards. However, the numerous ancient sites and historic remains in the vicinity are evidence of human habitation and activity in the area many centuries before the establishment of the town itself. Ring forts in the vicinity can date from the Iron Age into the Christian era and up to late medieval times.
Lisdoonvarna's famous Victorian Spa Complex and Health Centre is a major attraction. It is at present the only active spa centre in Ireland. The waters contain magnesia, iodine and iron and are reputed to have restorative effects on those who bathe in them. Therapeutic mineral waters have been dispensed in Lisdoonvarna since the 18th century. The centre features sulphur baths, massage and saunas. The Victorian Pump House is open daily.
Lisdoonvarna is a great spot to base oneself to explore North Clare,
it has a great variety of accommodation to choose from and is very central for visiting Clares top attractions. Just off the Wild Atlantic Way
it is just minutes drive from Lahinch,
Bishops Quarter and Fanore beaches
. Just north of the village the land rises sharply which affords fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding areas including a wonderful view over the valley of Ballyvaughan. In the village the Burren Smokehouse
Visitors Centre, established in 1995, showcases traditional smoking methods of locally caught fish and also other local gourmet products and crafts. This visitor centre has become a popular tourist attraction in the North County Clare
area and welcomes over 30,000 visitors from all over the world each year.
Lisdoonvarna castle was once a prominent building in the area. A corner-stone of a nearby house tells that the castle was built in 1619. Among the castles many owners down through the years were the O' Davorens who were traditionally remembered as "very haughty, aristocratical and tyrannical." The site of the famous 16th century Brehon Law School, in the locality, had been established by a branch of the same O' Davoren family.
To the south-west of the town, a bridge spans a deep narrow gorge through which the Aille River flows. As it had to support the road at the top, a double arch forming a circular opening was built above the lower arch, giving the bridge its unusual and unique appearance.