History of Matchmaking in Ireland

June 9, 2014 |

What Makes Intro Matchmaking different to Irish online dating servicesIntro is your professional matchmaking service in Ireland. We care about matching you with the perfect partner and our success speaks for itself. When you purchase our service, we work tirelessly to ensure that you find the perfect match for you. It’s important to us that Intro recognizes the history of matchmakers that have existed in Ireland for years. Today, we’d like to take you on a tour through the past to learn more about matchmaking here in Ireland.
Matchmaking is one of Ireland’s oldest traditions. “Babhdóir” is the Irish word for matchmaker. The busiest time of year for the matchmaker was during “Shrovetide”, which was the marrying season in Ireland. In 1563, the Catholic Church decreed that weddings were prohibited during lent. This rule was misinterpreted to mean that you must marry prior to lent. This led to Shrove Tuesday becoming the most popular day to marry, as it was the day prior to Ash Wednesday. If you were to go back just a few decades, you’d discover that weddings were held any day of the week except the weekend. This was due to families needing to either purchase or sell goods at the local market on a Saturday. Sunday was then spent at Church.

The tradition of matchmaking was quite common in Ireland until the 20th century with individual matchmakers residing in the many localities. Matchmakers were almost always males. Matchmakers were responsible for arranged marriages or in some parts referred to as must marriages. Now this prospect may not seem very enticing to you, but in some cases the couples had usually known one another since childhood. As well, families would try and select pairings of individuals that were compatible. Now this wasn’t always the case, as sometimes there was no love to be found between the bride and groom. In many cases, the future bride had no opinion and could be marrying a man twenty to thirty years older than her. The thinking in this case was that marriages were made in heaven, but may play out like hell on Earth.

What truly mattered was that the parents agreed on such items as the dowry that would be paid to the prospective bride. The matchmaker would hold the negotiations in a special room in a pub in town. He would offer suggestions and do his best to keep the negotiations moving forward. For his work, the matchmaker would likely only receive a bottle of whiskey. Now the first session would likely not lead to a successful agreement. However, if between libations, progress had been made then the next step was to ‘walk the land.’ During this, the bride’s relatives would survey the family home of the groom. If this went well, then negotiations would continue. Negotiations are known to have fallen apart over arguing over as little as 20 pounds.

As well, the matchmaker would assist the families to complete the marriage agreement called, ‘the bindings.’ This agreement could be quite detailed (i.e. bride’s parents listing that they’d need a ride to Sunday Mass when they were older).
Once the matchmaker had the families agree upon whom would marry, the groom to be would be invited to meet his future bride. For this event, the future bride’s family would cook a goose in honour of the engagement. This custom was called, “aitin the goose.” At the event, the bride and groom would have the opportunity to meet one another and everyone involved with the wedding (i.e. the priest) would be invited to attend too.

Today, the largest matchmaking event held in Ireland is in Lisdoonvarna through September and early October. The town attracts over 40,000 potential brides, grooms and their friends. Throughout the month of September, dances run each and every day from noon until the wee hours of the morning. Lisdoonvarna became a tourist destination during the mid 18th century when a surgeon discovered the benefits of its mineral waters. Soon, individuals from all over came to drink and bathe in it.

Due to the number of tourists, it soon led to the matchmaking tradition to grow in Lisdoonvarna. September became its top month with the bachelor farmers free to come in search for a wife due to the annual harvest being complete. Besides, the pairings that are negotiated, there isn’t too much of the traditional matchmaking that takes place.

Ireland has a rich history within the field of matchmaking. At Intro, we recognize the past and use that knowledge to build success for our clients in the future. We’re confident that we’ll discover your perfect match and continue to uphold the tradition of matchmaking in Ireland.

Sources:
http://www.minogue.com/celtic-irish-wedding-traditions/wedding-traditions.php
http://wpic.typepad.com/wpic/2010/02/our-irish-wedding-adventure-crom-castle-post-8-of-8.html
http://www.littleshamrocks.com/Irish-Matchmaker.html
http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/AMisc/Lisdoonvarna.html
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Matchmaker
http://www.celticspiritband.com/customs.htm#Matchmaking
http://www.from-ireland.net/irish-history/life-and-places/matchmaking-in-ireland/