The matchmaker would be a knowledgeable man (almost never a woman) perhaps poorly-educated, but nonetheless well-versed in local lore and traditions.He would certainly know each and every family within a 15 mile radius."He would have a charm for the job," says Daly, pronouncing "charm" as "chairm" in his soft-spoken Clare accent, "like you'd have someone with a charm for working tin and another with a charm for curing ringworm or sick cows." Armed with his knowledge, the matchmaker would suggest a 'match' between the daughter of one family and the son of another.Negotiations would take place to settle the size of a dowry, whether one set of parents or a brother or sister would still live with the newly weds, the amount of land thrown into the deal and the cut or fee taken by the matchmaker."Dear Sir, I am a 68 year old widow, devout Roman Catholic, with property and pension worth 40,000.I am looking for companionship in a respectable and responsible husband.Willie Daly is the last of the traditional Irish 'matchmakers', matching lonely couples from around the world at the Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival.Now his daughters are taking over the business, run from his farm in County Clare, in the west of Ireland.
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Young people were able to meet one another and the need for a matchmaker fell away.Age and looks are of no particular concern, only that he must be a gentleman. I shall be visiting Lahinch in October." The pink paper enfolds a grainy colour photo of a grey-haired woman, standing in front of a fountain."And that," says Willie Daly, "is just one of the hundreds of sad letters I have sitting in my files." We sip warm, sweet tea in Daly's bungalow, overlooking the rugged patchwork of fields leading down to the Atlantic Ocean.This gave rise to the adage: "Protestants marry early for love, Catholics marry late for land".
In addition, many small holdings were too isolated for the men and women to meet members of the opposite sex. Each county would support perhaps three or four of these individuals.
Daly asked what was wrong: "Willie," the man replied, "she's grand but me mother doesn't approve." And the match ended there and then.
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