By Patrick Markey
Looking for love in all the wrong places?
You might try strolling down Manhattan’s 38th Street next week when an Irish matchmaking festival brings hundreds of eligible partners together with the help of one of the nation’s foremost experts in matters of the heart.
The Lisdoonvarna Match-Making Festival, a long-standing tradition in the west of Ireland, comes to New York on Sept. 16, when 56-year-old Willie Daly, a fourth-generation professional matchmaker, turns on the charm for America.
Daly, who has never left Ireland before, hopes that New Yorkers will fall for the thought of life with an educated, well-heeled, West of Ireland farmer. And that perhaps some American men might find an attractive proposition in the thought of marrying a young colleen.
"I’ll be hoping to meet and talk to people," Daly said by telephone from his home in Ireland. "The main thing is that there are many bachelors in the West of Ireland. They have a lovely quality of life, and they have the time to make a woman feel special, to make her feel loved.
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The New York festival is the idea of Fermanagh native Tom McGrath, who owns the Black Sheep bar in Manhattan. After reading the recent story about a lonely New York doctor who offered a $200,000 to anyone who could find him a bride, McGrath decided to bring the famous Irish event to Manhattan.
"I thought let’s do the real thing, let’s bring the Lisdoonvarna to New York City," McGrath said.
On the Saturday, a block of Second and Third Avenue on 38th Street will be closed down as lovelorn hopefuls search the partner of their dreams. Irish bands Black 47, Keep-er-lit, and the McCabes will add to the atmosphere as participants sample Irish crafts and foods while sipping on a Guinness.
More important, Daly will be explaining his craft and handing out advice to those who need it. Daly estimates about 40 percent of the 600 to 700 introductions he makes every year end in marriage.
"I going with a view of perhaps bringing back some American women. These are fine-looking men, and well-educated," he said. "I have also received email from Irish girls asking about the men in New York."
The Lisdoonvarna Festival in New York is on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 11-7 p.m. Daly can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and at his website www.williedaly.com. For further details on the festival, call (212) 599-3476.