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Intersection Column | Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match



by Jennifer Deibel


I remember bouncing down the road, heading from our home in County Galway, winding around the coast to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. Along the way, we passed through the wee village of Lisdoonvarna.

 

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the billboard. I was starting to doze off in the passenger seat and had to blink and look again to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.

 

Lisdoonvarna: Home of the Famous Matchmaking Festival! All September! Music, Dance, Romance, and a lot, lot more!

 

No, I hadn’t taken a trip in a time machine. This was in 2004. I saw it every time we made the trip (which was often, because we took groups to the cliffs all the time). And every time, I wondered what it must be like.

 

Of course, I was envisioning quaint little gatherings around a fire, with some ceilí dancing and free-flowing tea. And I think that’s how it used to be. After all, this festival has been going on since 1847! But, in present day, I think it probably looks more like a music festival than a scene out of The Quiet Man.

 

But it got me thinking…

 

Who doesn’t love a good matchmaker story? From the biblical accounts of Adam and Eve, and Mary and Joseph, to literary classics such as Emma, or musical theatre like Fiddler on the Roof, we’re captivated by the premise. We love sitting at the edge of our seats, wondering if the hero and heroine will ever truly fall in love with one another.

 

And I started to ask myself…what would happen if a matchmaker couldn’t ever match herself? Thus, the character of Catríona Daly was born. Third-generation matchmaker, she loves her job, and is very good at it, but is tired of the small-town life. And tired of seeing all the best men matched off with lasses from far afield.

 

Her surname, Daly, is a nod to the current real-life matchmaker-extraordinaire, Willie Daly. A quick Google search for “Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival” will take you to countless photos of Willie and his magical book—a leather “bound” (I use that term very lightly…it’s falling apart) book that contains records of every single match ever made by Willie, his father, and his grandfather. He claims if you lay your hand on the book and close your eyes for 7 seconds, you’ll fall in love by the end of the week. He adds such an air of whimsy and fun to the festival, and I wanted to bring that into my story as well. I do that in part with Catríona’s father, Jimmy. But I also bring some fancy and fun through Sara Bunratty.

 

Sara is the 9-year-old daughter of Donal Bunratty, a local farmer living about a mile outside of town. Sara’s mom passed away when she was 3, leaving just her and her father to run the farm.

 

Donal, a strong-and-silent-type, is happy as things are. Well…maybe not happy, but it works. Except that it’s not quite working anymore. When Sara’s birthday wish is that he attend the festival, he doesn’t know what to do. Without money to lavish his daughter in the gifts she deserves, he feels he has no choice but to grant her wish.

 

When he arrives for his meeting with Jimmy, he’s surprised to find Jimmy has to run, and has placed Donal in the hands of Catríona. And the shenanigans begin.

 

The Irish Matchmaker is a fun, light-hearted story that carries depth, faith, and struggle as Donal wrestles with the concept of God’s goodness and provision, and Catríona struggles to understand her purpose. A quirky cast of characters lightens the heavier themes of widowerhood, single parenting, and loss, as the characters learn to lean into their faith, laugh, and trust God with their greatest dreams and deepest fears.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Deibel is the author of A Dance in Donegal (winner of the Kipp Award for Historical Romance), The Lady of Galway Manor, and The Maid of Ballymacool. Her work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and in other publications. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children. You can find her online at JenniferDeibel.com.


 

About the Book

As daughter of a well-known matchmaker, Catríona Daly seizes the opportunity to make a better match for the handsome son of Lord Osborne—and for herself! Cattle farmer Donal Bunratty is in desperate need of a wife after loss left him to handle the farm and raise his daughter on his own. Shy and lacking the finer social graces, he agrees to attend the matchmaking festival to fulfill his daughter's birthday wish. But when he arrives, it's not any of the other merrymakers that catch his eye but rather his matchmaker—who clearly has eyes for someone else.

 

Did You Know?


Out of approximately 7.9 billion people on earth today, no two people have the same fingerprints—not even twins. Leonardo Pisano, an Italian mathematician, discovered a design in all of creation called the Fibonacci sequence that shows up everywhere in nature, even in our individual fingerprints. These interesting scientific facts point us to a Creator who has a design and purpose in all of nature and in our individual lives.

 

  • People's hair also has a unique fingerprint. As many as one thousand protein markers can be used to identify individuals and distinguish one person from another.

  • Criminals have been trying to remove their fingerprints for years. However, it's almost impossible to do so permanently because the pattern of your fingerprints is more than skin deep.

  • People are not the only ones who have fingerprints. Apes, monkeys, chimpanzees, and koala bears all have fingerprints. The koala bear is one of the few mammals, other than primates that has fingerprints. Even man's best friend has a unique fingerprint—it's just not on their paws—it's on their nose.

 

The world is full of wonders that point to a Creator and tell us we are uniquely created with a divine purpose. More than ever today, kids need to know they are loved by a God who has a purpose for their lives.

 

-Sandra Kay Chambers, Fingerprint Devotions 

 

Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore


“Bookstores make book covers turn into reality! As a person who likes to feel and touch the tangible, bookstores are a gift to this reader's heart.”

 

-Joan C. Benson, Let's Be One 

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