As the old Roman proverb goes, "Nemo propheta in patria sua", so I find it difficult and sometimes even awkward to write about my home club. Not that I don't know how, or that there is something that holds me back, on the contrary, I have a thousand multiplied by a thousand luminous thoughts and memories bound up with the people who shaped and forged (often through sweat and tears) Laois Archery as it is now – strong and radiant alike the golden star shimmering in the vastness of the sombre expanse of space. Beginning with James Delaney and Tom McDonald, the "Founding Fathers", always standing aside yet on the look-out for something to do for the club or its people, through the current chair Nick Anton, who I often think of as the irreplaceable Clemens von Metternich of today... We all owe him much, much more than the bright future of a single club.
Watching him over the years, I realise how much he influences the shape and development of the IFAF (along with the general shift of the perception of the archery sport as such). At the same time he does it in a way that feels very natural.
Oh... No! He's not a revolutionary! Rather a Spin-doctor always near the governing body. As in all places and situations where people live and interact with each other, politics comes into play over time, and Nick finds himself well suited to it, lending direction without being overly conspicuous - hence the association with Metternich. A man who turns the wheel of fortuity while keeping himself firmly inside. This requires a calling on patience and inner strength to set the vessel (that carries us all towards the future) in motion. Alongside Nick, walking side by side is Georgi Phips and her husband Emlyn (the Paladins of the club's cause),
Jimmy Holden, keeping pace although missing a leg (a fine example of strength and hope in working for the benefit of others), Michelle Jay (restless spirit, courageous and adventurous soul, striving for perfection in all things), Jason O Neill (A soldier with a dove heart and a compassionate soul), Owen Reynolds (known to all corners of the globe as Stringfellow), Tom Joyce (the ever-thoughtful Plato of the Slieve Bloom Mountains), George Fitzpatrick (the invisible hand of action), Patt and her son Noel Bannon (the ever winning duo inspiring all archers, from cubs to Veterans). This gallery of great and unique people is only an introduction or, as I see it, a preface to the story of the tutors and stewards of tomorrow's hopes - for that, in essence, is who they become through their work and commitment. Typically, this is grassroots work, away from the prying eyes of observers. Hours and hours spent on paperwork, application forms, insurance renewals and so on. But also working with individual club members to improve their form, helping with equipment, explaining rules and regulations, which, as you know, are plentiful and the proverbial "beginner" has to deal with it all at once, especially when he or she decides to take part in their first competition. So they are always there, ready to lend a helping hand. Every event they organise, every time they spend in the forest or at their desks at home, every rule book or registration card, it all carries their light.
That is why I am uncomfortable writing about my own club for its people its core members stun and shy anyone who sets their eyes upon them. And not through pride or self-indulgence but rather through work and the awareness of being a humble cog to a great wheel carrying this generation into the future. That's why every time you come to our event, in the summaries you write: "great day!", "what a day!" or so forth. So I ask, how could it be otherwise except for as you say, "it was great!". With such passion and such a way of life, since archery and the club have become a substance of their lives, it could not have been otherwise than "great!". Therefore, please pardon me if I neglect to write a report on the Laois shoot this time, as you all know how it was - you wrote the word in dozens of comments after getting back home. Life is too short and the world around us too difficult to allow ourselves being unkind or indifferent towards those who strive for change. And this is exactly what the people at Laois Archery are - as those I have mentioned here and more than a hundred who I haven't named, but I remember and see all of them facing small and great challenges day after day standing tall - they do so without fear in their hearts knowing that right behind them is their fellow club member. and, take my word for it, I have seen it and often felt it, for instance in moments of adverse trial - someone has always been there for me. So if you have friends like mine by your side, you don't have to worry about tomorrow as tomorrow is there for you all along...