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Last Valentines a group of us flew from Edinburgh, Gatwick, Stansted and Liverpool to meet up at The Outing Festival. Friendships were made as we met with OutNewsGlobal readers & Oban Lesbian Weekend’s group from Ireland and made some new ones.  This year will be the 11th Outing Festival and like us, most people who go to The Outing come back for more!

So if you’re thinking of going solo, don’t worry, just click here to join our friendly group and we’ll meet you there.  Ryanair has flights from just £9.99 straight to Shannon and then it’s a short 8km hop in a shared taxi to the Inn at Dromoland, where all the fun takes place.  

Billed as The World’s Only Queer Matchmaking, Music & Arts Festival, The Outing is for singles and couples and has a history of matchmaking.  

Last year one of our crew, Helen Mcluckie from Glasgow, got her 15 minutes of fame, when she became a contestant in their much loved Blind Date show, hosted by none other than The Outing’s Founder & Queen of matchmaking, Eddie Mcguinnes, aka Mr Pride.  Helen was the lucky lady picked for a date.  Did they hit it off?  Helen has kept quiet about her date but has said with a smile, that she’ll definitely be back and hope’s she’ll get picked for another Blind Date.

Some of the Oban Lesbian Weekend group of ladies last year at The Outing Festival

Eddie hosts a nightly Blind Date show, as well as speed dating to bring people together.  It’s not easy to find someone of like-mindedness out there online or offline before COVID and since, but this is what we do here at The Outing Festival, said Eddie McGuinness, Queen of Matchmaking, aka Mr Pride. This is a fusion of Queer Arts and culture plus that safe space where you can chat and meet someone from the LGBTQ+ community in a beautiful part of West Ireland in Co. Clare.

With hundreds of LGBTQ+ tourists from Scotland, the USA, South America, Canada, France, Germany, the UK and more coming from around the world to find love and friendship in the west of Ireland.

“This is like a Gay Butlins with even more glitter and camp,” said Eddie McGuinness, founder & Queen of Matchmaking.

The Outing Festival has now developed into an even bigger festival by bringing the LGBTQ+ community and friends together in the areas of Arts, Music, Film, and Comedy, plus outdoor activities (hiking, surfing, water sports, horse riding, golf and more) with at the heart of the festival been Matchmaking the art of bringing people no matter who they are or backgrounds together.

Our group loved the fact that the hotel offered three meals a day, so we could make friends over breakfast, then get to know people later at a hike to the nearby sites or in the bar, while watching one of their drag shows.  Ireland is always known for its friendliness and we couldn’t have been made more welcome!

Queen of Matchmaking, Eddie McGuinnes and fellow host, Paul Ryder with some attendees

Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Ireland in 1993, but in May 2015, the country became the first in the world to legalise gay marriage by popular vote, and it did so resoundingly: 62% voted in favour. In the traditionally more conservative west, County Clare voted 58% in favour, so the festival isn’t quite as incongruous as it sounds. Except it still sort of is 8 years or more later, there have been marriages and engagement parties after meeting at The Outing Festival. 

We had such a good time last year that a few of us stayed an extra few days and explored Limerick and Dublin on the way back, escorted of course by some of our new friends. 

For tickets and info about The Outing, CLICK HERE

If you’re thinking of coming alone or would like to meet others going to The Outing, CLICK HERE to join our group.

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Maz Gordon

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