Orla Vaughan is the woman in the thick of it all
What can I say about Marcus White, the man behind the newly planned Outing in Lisdoonvarna? He’s a ball of energy, not just any old energy but that most sought after holy grail of energy, positive energy. This is not news to me as I’ve know Marcus for years but at the same time I haven’t seen him in years so you can forget. When he says he’ll see me at 10 am sharp in The Hydro Hotel, I’m there at 5-to and he makes it all about me and my time keeping and then launches straight into my business and how I’m doing. I’ve known for years that it’s all about me but I’m surprised how long it’s taken others to get there, Marcus seems to get that straight off the bat!
I’m officially mad about him and if you’re thinking well this is going to be one-sided he’s great so we should all go and support his outing then you’re right. I am going to tell you all to go to Lisdoonvarna on the 30th of August for The Outing and spend your hard earned pink pound on this new venture.
Before we get started, Marcus points out to a handyman passing by that the leg of one of the very comfortable chairs in reception has the potential to come loose. The handyman pulls and drags at the leg and says it’s fine but Marcus insists that the chair is taken away and repaired. All very hands-on indeed, ok my superhero Marcus isn’t going to fix the chair himself, but you see where I’m going.
So we get down to it, why a gay weekend and why now. Marcus admits that because of his extensive travelling over the years he has been exposed to other forms of business outside of the mainstream and realized that there was/is a huge spin off in the gay and lesbian sector that he has not tapped into.
Four years ago, the time wasn’t right for Lisdoonvarna to do ‘this sort of thing’ but certainly with all the publicity in the last two years about this and that, I think people are getting more liberal. I also want to change the thinking and tradition of the Matchmaking Festival put a different twist on it. I came up with an idea that I wanted to try a gay and lesbian weekend and I met a guy called Eddie McGuinness, who is one of the main organisers for this festival. We put a program together which is live on theouting.ie its been received positively.
“Is that positively locally or in general?” I ask, “Locally, I’m local so I’m always talking locally” says the man with the thick Donegal accent who has been living in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare since the 80’s.
The response nationally has been even better according to Marcus who says that the media have really jumped on board with the idea. Marcus thinks this is down to the location of The Outing. He says we have gay pride in all the major cities and even towns now in Ireland but a gay and lesbian matchmaking festival in a rural village in Co Clare has seemed to really catch the imagination of the media. With that said there is always one or two that will disagree with what you are doing and as Marcus and I agree, they are entitled to their opinion.
But one story in particular that Marcus mentioned caught my attention. A letter no less, written to Marcus telling him that “he” would burn Marcus and his hotel down and to have “the fire brigade on the ready”. The would-be arsonist also provided his home address on the letter just in case Marcus wasn’t taking him seriously! It’s great to have criminal masterminds like that around.
Marcus basically wants to open up this very traditional heterosexual Matchmaking Festival. He feels the image of the festival is for older people and I’m not talking mid-sixties. He also feels that immigration has taken its toll on the festival and he has noticed first hand over the past three to four years how the number of young people attending has dropped dramatically. So why not try a gay and lesbian festival? I know that this has failed before for Marcus who tried to hold a similar event in his OTHER hotel ‘The Earl of Desmond Hotel in Tralee. He admits that he didn’t have the correct organisation behind him and without that he was doomed to fail from the OFF. This time he feels he has the formula right and who could argue with him?
Eddie McGuinness IS former Events Chair for Dublin Pride and Donal Mulligan is famed for his involvement in POORHOUSE, where Sean-nos meets Pop-culture, who knew?! The line up itself is really impressive, Panti, Niamh Kavanagh, Jonny Woo, DJ Mo, Bunny, Sheila & Madonna to name but a few.
The bottom line – I’m excited about The Outing. Is this because I don’t have to get on a train, bus or plane to be with my ‘own’ people, finally you are all coming to me? Maybe. But I also think that we do tend to say ‘I wish there was something like that for us’ and finally someone from the ‘other’ side is giving us love on a plate I think we should grab it with both hands.
There is a five-year plan but that’s worth nothing if we don’t support this event. Marcus used the words ‘taboo’ and ‘stigma’ a lot when we were chatting and how he is trying to break them. I’m no fool and neither is Marcus and I know he is trying to make a bob but he genuine sees how isolating it can be for gay and lesbian people in rural Ireland and that is driving him on, maybe not as much as the pink pound but it’s still driving him. Now I just need to figure out if the Matchmaker himself, my friends and neighbors really buy into this. And I also need to pin down (not literally ;0)) these not so out lesbians I know in the area and see if they will join me at the end of August.