Calling all singles, and all those who just want to spend time with fellow Irish revelers as summer makes way for fall: a first-ever matchmaking festival at an Irish resort in East Durham known for pairing off happy couples in the past is hoping to sprinkle some love dust on modern-day singletons looking for a mate.

The Shamrock House, owned by married couple Emma Hand from Co. Cavan and Lar Molloy, has a matchmaker all lined up for its first annual matchmaking weekend on September 29 and 30.  Interest in the event has been high, Hand tells the Irish Voice, and men looking for a partner should take special note: ladies have so far outnumbered the guys in signing up.

“Our matchmaker, a local man, sees a lot of potential in the event,” Hand says.  “He’s been married for 27 years himself, has spent a lot of time at the Shamrock House and has matched couples before.”

The target age group for the festival is 30 and up, Hand says.  “It’s hard for people to meet these days,” she says, “a lot harder than it used to be years ago. Not everyone wants to be part of the bar scene. This is a great alternative.”

The idea of creating a matchmaking festival at the Shamrock House came to Hand during the recent summer season, when many Irish couples returned to the upstate New York location to reminisce about how they met there many moons ago.  Hand has owned the property since 2014, and reports that business is brisk, especially among Irish Americans.

“We have a lot of customers who came together here back in the day.  One of our regular couples has been coming for 61 years straight, ever since meeting here. Many others come back for anniversary celebrations, so we thought the time was right to help new couples meet and hopefully make a match.”

The two-day event will feature both old-school techniques for finding love – the matchmaker – and a modern twist with speed dating rounds in which participants can meet face to face for a few minutes, until (hopefully) settling on someone they’d like to spend more time with.

There will be live music, a seisiun and other activities to bring potential couples together.  And though the event is geared for singles, those happily partnered are also more than welcome to join in the fun.

“Everyone is welcome, groups of friends and family – all will enjoy,” Hand says.  “It’s a comfortable environment up here and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to make people happy long after they leave.”

Hand tried to employ the services of famed Irish-based matchmaker Willie Daly in Lisdoonvarna, but his annual event is currently in full swing which limited his availability.  Hand is confident that love will be in the Catskills air regardless.

“We’re sure of it.  We hope to see lots of people looking to make a match…we’ll do everything we can to help!” she says.

For reservations and overnight accommodation packages at the Shamrock House, visit

Emma Hand and Lar Molloy, proprietors of the Shamrock House.