Irish Matchmaker has Magic Touch

Ireland may be a land of ancient traditions, but one has a very modern application.

Forget dot-com dating. Every year at this time, since nobody-can-remember-when, the never-married, the widowed and the once-but-no-longer married, gather in Lisdoonvarna: the town in the wild west of Ireland famous for matchmaking, as CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips reports.

Jimmy Flemming said he's been coming for 69 years but still hasn't found a wife. "Can't find one," he says, "unable."

But lots are able. Albert and Cicely Lawlor met here 43 years ago.

"We got married in 1968, in September 1968, and we haven't missed a year here since," said Albert.

Dancing, they say, beats the Internet every time.

"If you got to a lady and you ask her to dance, you're holding her and you're holding her close. It gives you," said Albert.

"Sort of like a test drive?" Phillips asked.

"Yes, like a test drive, exactly," laughed Albert.

And if you can't find a match yourself, horse trader and third generation matchmaker Willy Daly will help you.

Willy's got the magic touch. He's got a book going back a hundred years showing, he says, thousands of successful match ups.

Lately, for his fee of just over ten dollars a pop, he's got a nice line of American women looking for Irish men.

Jean McLaughlin from Washington, D.C., said, "I'm a very boring girl, that's why I have trouble meeting men."

With Willy's help she'd have no trouble here.

"You know back in the states, we do it on the Internet," said McLaughlin. "So why not have the personal touch of a human being here?"

In fact, Jean's friend Kim Clemens may have already found the personal touch.

"I think I may have met someone," she said. "I don't know."

Wedding bells don't always ring, but even in a recession, the cash registers here chime.

The matchmaking merchants of Lisdoonvarna have an expression to get them through these lean times. Recessions may come and go they say, but there's always a market for love.

And always people willing to invest.
  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips returned to the CBS News London bureau as a correspondent in 1993. He has covered many major stories since then, including the war in the Balkans, the death of Princess Diana and the weapons inspection conflicts in Iraq.

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