There are few sections in Irish Country Living that have gotten quite as much attention as the personal page Getting in Touch. Its contents have been read aloud at the kitchen table in farmhouses throughout the country - perhaps in the hope of setting up a single member of the family. For others, it is a more private read. People read it out of curiosity and entertainment - trying to decipher some of the mysterious abbreviations such as WLTM (would like to meet) and SD/NS (social drinker/non-smoker).

However, at its core, Getting in Touch has served an extremely important function in rural Ireland - connection.

It serves to connect people through friendships and romance. Some of these romances have been fleeting, while others have led to relationships, marriages, children and - potentially - a few divorces. However, our lips are sealed as Getting in Touch is the most confidential service offered to our readers.

Initial concept

The initial idea for Getting in Touch was concocted in a farmhouse in Co Dublin over 50 years ago, in the childhood home of the late Larry Sheedy. Larry, who worked in the Irish Farmers Journal for 21 years, was a talented journalist who played an important role in the growth of the paper in its early years. Larry penned a lovely reflection piece for Irish Country Living in 2019, two years before his passing.

He was inspired to write the piece after reading Graham Norton’s bestseller book A Keeper, in which the two main characters meet through the Irish Farmers Journal Getting in Touch column.

What started as a matchmaking idea for a local bachelor has stood the test of time, and still generates a huge amount of correspondence.

Ad prices have increased in line with inflation. Looking back through the archives, it cost 30p to reply to an ad back in the 1990s. Today, placing an ad will cost you €25 and it runs for four weeks, a reply is €15. It has also moved with the times incorporating the development of technology.

Former editor

However, former editor of Irish Country Living Mairead Lavery says Getting in Touch is still to this day much more suited to the written word rather than the phone.

“I remember Kay Kevlihan managed the Getting in Touch column with great care for many years. At some stage, a decision was made to bring the page into the digital age. Instead of letters and texts, readers would get in touch via a call centre.

“However, I wasn’t too keen on this approach so I decided to reinstate direct contact with the readers who supported this page.”

Today, readers can send their correspondence via email but replies can still be made via post. There really is nothing quite like the written word when it comes to romance.

Many readers have had great success with this form of correspondence.

A look back at the ICL 75th Edition Archive.
Getting in Touch from our ICL 75th Edition Archive.

Mairead says, “I well remember talking to one man who had complained about making no contacts despite spending a lot of money on the process. I gave him a month’s free subscription and - believe it or not - the correspondence flowed. I got a call from the same man a few months later who pleaded with me to hold his advert for a few weeks. It turned out that he had several dates lined up, but he also had silage to make and didn’t have time to meet anyone else.”

Recent years

In recent years, this section of the paper helped connect people during the isolating period of the COVID-19 pandemic. When people across rural Ireland were alone and had no one to talk to, they would send in letters and pick up the phone to a member of the Irish Farmers Journal staff to place an ad. This moment in time really proved the importance of this column, not just for finding connections but also a platform for seeking friendships.

Looking back through the archives, what is striking is that although times have changed, the interests, needs and wants of people are, for the most part, still the same. We’ve assembled a selection of adverts, some that date back as far as 1966, with elements as relevant now as they were back then

At its core, it is genuine people looking for that someone special to spend their life with, and this is a concept that simply never dates.

A look back over the years at some of our favourites


Mayo Coleen is a 24-year-old nurse of farming background who at present residing in Co Mayo. She would like to hear from nice lads between the ages of 25 and 30 years. She is considered good looking and has a pleasing personality. Her hobbies are music, reading, horse-racing and beagling. All letters answered. Strict confidence given and expected. Snaps appreciated with first letter.

Pussycat is a farmer’s son from Donegal. He works at home on his farmer’s farm. He is 21 years of age and his hobbies are dancing films, and pop records. He would like to get in touch with C. of I. girls anywhere in Ireland. Snaps appreciated with first letter.


Perpignan is a 26-year-old engineering graduate with a fairly wide variety of social and sporting interests. He would like to correspond with tall, good-looking single girls or widows. Photo appreciated very much. Strictest confidence.


American sheep shearer, aged 36, wishes to meet lovely lady to travel the world shearing circuit, with marriage in mind, to settle on small farm.

Getting in Touch from our ICL 75th Edition Archive.

Fire & Ice. Separated lady, early thirties, no ties, tall, slim, fun-loving. Non-smoker, social drink of foreign extraction. Loves Dancing and travelling. She seeks sincere, kind gentleman in 30-45 age group in Muster area. All letters answered. Photo appreciated.


Mega Bucks is a dashing 31-year-old, fully auto, 150 acre dairy/beef farmers with a genuine low milage. One previous vivacious, charming lady owner has ensured this model is in mint condition. Must be seen to be believed! All genuine enquiries will be sensitively and confidentially considered to replied to immediately.

Getting in Touch: Reflection by Larry Sheedy

Getting in Touch was conceived in the kitchen of my father’s farmhouse more than 50 years ago and I was a key witness. It was a very masculine farm home and men would gather there at least weekly for the kind of chat that was so common before television and many other distractions

One particular regular was a bachelor in his early 50s who owned a decent farm with a new bungalow and a Hillman Imp car. Not bad at all you’d say, but his weakness was that he never had a romantic bone in his body. Naturally, his friends would often steer the conversation around to his dilemma. And no sign of him doing anything about it.

One statement that he made which I won’t easily forget was: “I’ll tell you all something, I’m not going to spend another winter in bed without something between me and that cold wall.” I had a brain wave.

As a member of the Irish Farmers Journal staff, I suggested that he should concoct an advertisement requesting correspondence with appropriate women. He did, with some help and a lot of restraint on how he would word the very short message. It was published under the new heading of Getting in Touch and it worked.


It was the first message of its kind and it was a rare piece of communication in so far as there was only one other connecting service in Ireland, managed by a priest in Co Roscommon. It was obviously the beginning of a partial solution to a significant national problem. In the 1940s and 50s, and into the 60s, almost half of Irish farmers didn’t marry and many of those who did left it very late in life. The reasons for this added up to a complicated situation. In many cases they were waiting to inherit the property and their parents found it hard to let go. Also, girls were very slow to move into a farmhouse already occupied by a strong woman. Fifteen and 20-year courtships were not uncommon.

At a fairly intellectual level, it was described to me as a racial psychological reaction to the Irish famine. Before the famine, young Irish people married recklessly, built a house behind or beside the main house and reared a big family. It was not a sustainable situation. It was replaced by a much more cautious approach to marriage in the 20th century.

Immediate success

The Getting in Touch service was an immediate success. Notices poured in from dozens of farmers who had left it a bit late to take action. There was correspondence from those who were in remote areas, probably faced with restricted opportunities for social contact. Responses also came from women who were unhappy with the city life that had attracted them as young girls or who had moved out of home to become nurses or teachers in Ireland or overseas, and whom were missing rural life and their home districts.

But did it really work? That was the big question. I’ve already mentioned confidentiality was an essential part of the service and I obviously had no access to the content of the sealed responses that were channelled through the Irish Farmers Journal offices.

What I can reveal, though, is that some marriages have been the result of the idea concocted in our farmhouse. And our man by the cold wall, our very first entry? Well, he got 27 replies and arranged meeting with about six of the women concerned. Beyond that, my lips are sealed.

Read more

Getting in Touch: how it all started

Getting in Touch goes back to basics