Thousands of visitors head to Lisdoonvarna in Clare seeking nightlife, marriage and the curative properties of the local spa water.

In the old days, visitors to Lisdoonvarna in County Clare were Tipperary farmers. While they still visit, so do thousands of young people from all over Ireland who come to dance, drink and sing. 

A large number of people also come to drink or bathe in the sulphur manganese baths. At its peak in 1911, 15,000 people took the waters in Lisdoonvarna. While its popularity has waned since, it still has devotees, especially amongst the clergy. One priest finds the baths and waters are a great help for rheumatism.

Another priest interviewed has taken his annual holiday in Lisdoonvarna for over 20 years. In the intervening time he has noticed changes. In the case of his own hotel,

There is more latitude today than there used to be 20 years ago.

Guests are allowed to stay up later to sing and dance than previously. Unlike other Irish seaside resorts where activities finish at midnight, in Lisdoonvarna things go on till 5 am. The priest has no problem with people out cavorting till the early hours of the morning.

If that’s how they want it, leave them to it.

Lisdoonvarna also has a long tradition of informal matchmaking, however, none of the women interviewed admit they are there to find a man. 

No I’m looking for a boyfriend here, I’d prefer one from around home.

While many people may joke about it, couples do meet, court and marry through taking a holiday in Lisdoonvarna. One married couple who met in Lisdoonvarna return to the town every year. Neither originally went looking for a partner.

While Lisdoonvarna for many is not a relaxing holiday destination, they manage to stand the hectic pace.

The air must be good alright because people survive and they come back the next year, young old and middle aged.

Although the priest adds,

A lot of people I know require a holiday after Lisdoonvarna.

This episode of ‘Newsbeat’ was broadcast on 5 October 1967. The reporter is Cathal O'Shannon.