Irish Field Archery Federation

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“Alice in Wonderland”


By Marcin Malek

A very special thanks to Clodagh Nolan, for rescuing a near catastrophe.

There is a place near New Ross where time runs differently, worries disappear and the world around seems a lot less stressed. When I first got there, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. If memory serves me right, it was the first competition I ever took part in outside my home club. Ned Cronin convinced me to enter and I did. It’s been a while but I still keep that day in my mind as if it happened yesterday, remembering the excitement, packing in the morning and making sandwiches in the kitchen at dawn. On the way from Portlaoise, we passed Thomastown and the picturesque, riverside Inistioge. Ned had a lot of fun when my clumsy tongue tried to pronounce its name correctly. Eventually, he taught me the right articulation – since then I have always pronounced it aloud when passing by. Oh! what a feeling it was when our car climbed unhurriedly up the peak where the forest and the first rocks grew clearer and clearer. On the left of the rough, ground road rose a dark brown rocky mass, dragged here as it seems by the head of the moraine, which passed through the area millennia ago. On the right, the hill descended gently, offering a stunning view of the sprawling valley. In front of us, against the background of the forest, out of which, sporadically, emerged the rocky patches, loomed a crowd of cheerful archers. Unforgettable and unique sight, which can only be compared to a sudden awakening in a rabbit hole:)

That, in a nutshell, is how I remember my first encounter with Dunbrody Archers.

They launched in 2004, in New Ross, on the initiative of Don Bradley. Club operates from the New RossYouth Centre every Tuesday night from 7:30-9:30pm. Dunbrody’s outdoor range is currently located at Tinnecarrig woods, Newbawn and previous to that they roam the woods in Stokestown. That woods got felled and so the move had to be made. The new place is much bigger and so has given us much more scope, including parts we haven’t got to yet.

Dunbrody crew have always been active within the community doing have a go’s and working with many vulnerable groups in the area, which is always very rewarding and prompts to make similar plans for the future. As Clodagh Nolan told me: We won the local St. Patrick’s Day float award twice, considering the fact that we have only entered the competition two times, we may say that it is a very good ratio of winnings against participations. The biggest event for us every year was the military show in Duncannon. It is a huge deal for the club not only for it brings our founds up to date but also because it is a fantastic weekend to meet people from all over, engage with the other groups -military, re-enactment, Viking, medieval and the public. We even managed to get on RTE’s O’Gorman’s Summer one year.

We currently have 56 members with 7 more in training so hopefully, they will continue with the club. There are 10 Cubs/Juniors with us at the moment who have their own side of the hall to practice and as they improve they move along the distances. We took part in many competitions at home and abroad and have been very successful over the years: EBHC medals, Ukifac, Ifaf Champions, Sifa Champions with some more trips planned for the next two years. Covid, as in many similar cases, had an impact on the club where the hall had to close but luckily for the majority of the time, the woods stayed open to some of the club members who were within the distance rules. Now that the pandemic is slowing down, we are getting many enquiries about archery, with our big event in the Hook every New Year’s Day that always gives us plenty of publicity keeping club up there in peoples minds when they look for something different to try.

As for future plans I hear from Clodagh that it can and will only get better: With many plans in mind for the woods and a very strong local as well as international interest in our annual shoot „Dunbrody’s 100 3D” we’ll have our hands full, hopefully, the weather stays on our side so we can get out to the woods and get the work done.

Our short term plans: we are working hard to set the course for our upcoming shoot on the 13th March 2022.

Oh dear, it looks like this year’s spring is going to be full of surprises and wonderful encounters. I can hardly contain my imagination and return to everyday life, but in fairness, I only manage to do this thanks to the prospect of a few weeks when the Dunbrody Archers will allow us to venture out again through their mirror into a world where hurrying time and all worries have no room.