By Lynn Strough
Lisdoonvarna is the matchmaking capitol of Ireland, and I just happened to be passing through during their annual festival. Even though I wasn’t looking to get matched, I admit I was curious, and have to say it’s hilarious.
The town is studded with signs about matchmaking, along with hearts and cupids. A friendly old chap stopped to ask me if I’m here to get matched. When I told him no, he asked, “Have any of the old codgers come on to you yet? You should take 4 or 5 home with you; if one doesn’t work out you have plenty more to choose from!”
It turned out to be country-Western weekend. Really? I came all the way to Ireland for some Irish music and I got American-style Country? When I sat down and ordered fish and chips at a recommended restaurant, the place was almost empty but as I ate, it gradually filled up… with 80-something-year-olds! I swear, nobody there was under 75, and most were 10 years older.
But when the music started up, those octogenarians flooded the floor and danced like you wouldn’t believe and like I wouldn’t even begin to try. One gentleman at the bar kept trying to get me to dance but while all the older ladies were dressed to kill in their Sunday best and high heels, I was still in my hiking duds, including my clunky boots, so I passed. At that point, the place was jam-packed, from youngsters at the bar to a few who looked 90, and everyone in between.
This whole area around the Burren is full of interesting stops, including small artisan producers creating perfume and chocolate. Maybe to use in the matchmaking process?
I drove along a narrow, winding road through beautiful countryside full of cows, stone fences and wildflowers, out into the middle of nowhere to find the Burren Perfumery. It’s a lovely little place of stone buildings and organic gardens, started as a cottage industry in the ’70s by a botanist and passed through a couple of hands to its present owner. They make wonderful smelling all-natural lotions, balms, perfumes and candles, and let you wander through their gardens.
The tea room has baked goods to die for. I opted for a slice of the homemade carrot cake and a cup of tea made with herbs from their garden; whole leaves floated unstrained in my cup — mint, lemon balm, fennel, marjoram and ladies mantle. It’s the sensory details that make the place special, the sights of colorful petals, sounds of bees buzzing and birds chirping, smells of sweet perfume and tastes of luscious treats.
The next day, I veered off of the main road when I saw a sign for Hazel Mountain Chocolate. Another successful small producer, they have a shop where you can peek through a glass window to watch them create their confections. They make all kinds of different treats, something for every taste, and the place is rich with history as well.
Also on the property is a sweet little cafe with organic salads and amazing home-baked desserts. How do you ever decide?
When I pulled off down an interesting-looking side road, I ended up at a deserted abbey, which dates back to the 1100s. I wandered through the tombstones and ruins of the church all alone, under a half blue, half gray and moody sky, and marveled at the age of the inscriptions.
So if you get to Ireland, make sure you don’t miss County Clare and the Burren, and if you time it just right, you may even get matched.
Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.
“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”
Reprinted with permission