Lisdoonvarna (Irish: Lios Dúin Bhearna, meaning 'fort of the gapped keep')[2] is a spa town in County Clare in Ireland. The town is famous for its music and festivals. Although the music festival was discontinued in the 1980s, Lisdoonvarna still hosts its annual matchmaking festival each September. The population was 829 at the 2016 census.[1]

Irish: Lios Dúin Bhearna
Lisdoonvarna Main Street
Lisdoonvarna Main Street
Lisdoonvarna is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°01′49″N 9°17′22″W / 53.0303°N 9.2894°W / 53.0303; -9.2894
CountyCounty Clare
94 m (308 ft)
Time zoneUTC+0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-1 (IST (WEST))
Irish Grid ReferenceR133984

Geography Edit

Lisdoonvarna is located in the area of County Clare known as the Burren, on the N67 road between Ballyvaughan and Ennistymon. The Aille River flows through the town, where it is joined by the Gowlaun and Kilmoon streams.

The town is in the civil parish of Kilmoon. Nearby townlands in this parish include Ballyinsheen Beg, Ballyinsheen More, Rathbaun and Rooska.

Name Edit

The town takes its name from the Irish Lios Dúin Bhearna meaning the "lios dúin", or enclosured fort, of the gap (bearna). It is believed that the fort referred to in this name is the green earthen fort of Lissateeaun ("fort of the fairy hill"), which lies 3 km to the northeast of the town, near the remains of a Norman-era castle.

History Edit

The present town is a comparatively new one by Irish standards, dating mainly from the start of the 19th century.

The spa official opened in 1845, but the town was visited before by people partaking of the waters. Even by the 1880s, however, the facilities were quite primitive. The wells were privately owned by the Guthrie family and were later developed and baths built by the new owner, a Dr. Westropp, who lived in a house overlooking the spa.[5]: 10–11 

On 11 September 1887, the house of landowner Mike Walsh was attacked by "moonlighters" (members of one of the organized bands of desperados that carried on a system of agrarian outrages in Ireland). A detachment of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) defended the house and its owner, and there was heavy fighting in and around the house. Head Constable Whelehan was killed. All the moonlighters were captured. Seven constables, four acting constables and two head constables received the Constabulary Medal for valour.[6]

The spa prospered into the 20th century. In 1920, it was called the "Homberg of the Irish priests".[5]: 11 

The area was officially classified as part of the West Clare Gaeltacht, an Irish-speaking community, until 1956.

Historical maps of Lisdoonvarna show how the Main Street looked in the nineteenth century. It also gives the location of the RIC barracks and the many hotels associated with the town, such as Queen's Hotel and Eagle Hotel, amongst others.

Arts and culture Edit

Events Edit

Victorian Gothic revival Roman Catholic Church, Lisdoonvarna
A group taking the waters at the Twin Wells on the banks of the Aille river at Lisdoonvarna, c. 1900

In September each year one of Europe's largest matchmaking events is held in the town attracting upwards of 40,000 romantic hopefuls, bachelor farmers and accompanying revellers. The month-long event is an important tourist attraction. The current matchmaker is Willie Daly, a fourth-generation matchmaker.[7]

A now-defunct music festival which took place near the town is celebrated in a song of the same name written by the Irish folk singer Christy Moore. This festival took place until 1983, when the last event was marred by a riot and the accidental drowning of eight people.[8][9]

Infrastructure Edit

Spa Edit

The spa originally consisted of four wells. Copperas Well, on Kilmoon stream, is now closed. It was used externally for skin conditions, ulcers and sores. The Magnesia and Iron Well remains open in season. The Twin Wells offer water rich in iron and sulphur. The main Sulphur Well lies at the bottom of the hill. All the waters contain iodine.[5]: 10 

The spa park is located at the confluence of the Aille and Gowlaun rivers. The spa complex features a Victorian pump house among other amenities.[5]: 12 

Transport Edit

Bus Éireann route 350 links Lisdoonvarna to several locations: Ennis, Ennistymon, Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, Fanore, Kinvara and Galway. There are a number of journeys each way daily. Onward rail and bus connections are available at Ennis and Galway.

Spectacle Bridge, spanning the Aille river, dates from 1850.[10]

See also Edit

References and notes Edit

  1. ^ a b c "Sapmap Area: Settlements Lisdoonvarna". Census 2016. Central Statistics Office. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  2. ^ Lisdoonvarna Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved: 2013-09-05.
  3. ^ Census Statistics Office Ireland : Alphabetical list of Towns with their population, 2002 and 2006 Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ and Lisdoonvarna was not regarded as a census town until 1891. Pre 1891 totals are for the townlands of Lisdoonvarna and Rathbaun, where the spas are located, and the first guesthouses were built for tourists in the 1870s. For a discussion on the accuracy of pre-famine census returns see JJ Lee "On the accuracy of the pre-famine Irish censuses" in "Irish Population, Economy and Society", edited by J.M. Goldstrom and L.A. Clarkson (1981) p54, and also "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850" by Joel Mokyr and Cormac Ó Gráda in "The Economic History Review", New Series, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Nov. 1984), pp. 473-488.
  5. ^ a b c d Cunningham, George (1980). Burren Journey West. Shannonside Mid Western Regional Tourism Organisation. ISBN 0-9503080-2-1.
  6. ^ Abbott, P. E.; Tamplin, J. M. A. (1971). British Gallantry Awards. Enfield: Guinness Superlatives. p. 274. ISBN 9780851121734.
  7. ^ Sally McGrane. "A Matchmaker and a Festival Keep an Irish Tradition Alive - The New York Times". Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  8. ^ From Sunstroke to Lisdoonvarna to Carnsore Point - a history of music festivals in Ireland
  9. ^ "Eight swimmers feared dead". The Times. 1 August 1983. Gale CS17796353. Retrieved 28 December 2021 – via Gale OneFile.
  10. ^ "National Inventory of Architectural Heritage - Spectacle Bridge, County Clare". Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht. Retrieved 22 December 2016.

External links Edit