From the Black Forest to Massbrook - a love story

It's only when you look back in time that you can clearly see the sequence of events that bring you to where you are now.  So what sequence of events lead to Harry and Cornelia Höllrigl from Germany to Ireland and become the driving force of a vibrant archery club now in its 21st year.

Cornelia's parents had a holiday home in Mayo and Cornelia had always wanted to emigrate to Ireland, her dream country, where she had spent her holidays as a small child so it was only natural that she would pass on this love of Ireland to husband Harry. Cornelia was the driving force and as a passionate fly fisherman Harry was easy to convince. In 1999 on one of many visits to the county, a local family asked Harry if he could put their farm on the market in Germany.  This coincided with changes in Harry and Cornelia's business interests in Germany and raised the possibility of buying the farm themselves, which is what they did. The children had finished school and left home and Cornelia's publishing house was sold to an investor after 25 years in management.  

Cornelia was a trained publisher and product manager with experience in marketing, Harry,  an instinctive archer through contact with Henry Bodnik and G Fred Asbell, had successfully participated in many archery tournaments in his native Gemany and was also a certified fly fishing master with international experience. Being too young for retirement an archery shop was a project that would use both their talents to the maximum, hence,  Flybow Shop was born and became a flourishing business known and revered by every traditional archer in Mayo and round the world. 

In 2002 Vincent Callaghan called into Flybow and suggested that Harry might join the  fledgling Mayo Archery Club which at that time consisted of a few targets, 3 trainer bows and arrows. This lead to the first MAC shoot which was held in 2001, initially in Deerpark, Foxford then Belleek Wood, Ballina and since 2004, Massbrook Woods, Pontoon. At that time there were only a handful of clubs, IFAF Loughcrew Archers, Donegal Archery Club, Littlewood Archers and Warriors of Queen Maeve from ITFAS (Irish Traditional Field Archery Society).

Harry became president of the club and Flybow was the perfect place to recruit new members. Customers and potential members bought their equipment and got a free basic course in instinctive archery.  At that time membership fees to finance the club were not needed, 3 MAC tournaments each year were so well attended that the participation fee was sufficient. Each tournament had a theme and there were always highlights that made it more attractive, challenging for the advanced participants but still easy enough for the beginners. The mix was the recipe for success!

One of the most remarkable shoot highlights ever was a trad only shoot in October 2008, where Harry took out 3 or 4 people at a time in his boat to shoot at a 3D swan.  Any arrows that missed were gathered but it's hard to know what any fishermen in the area thought of a group of amphibious archers, nothing had been seen in the area since the Vikings.

The last MAC shoot was in October 2019 and shortly after that almost half of the club wood was cut down, however this left plenty untouched and set a new challenge for Richie Scott, the course construction officer. Richie with 15 years experience was of course trained by Harry and already the course is well on target with new shots for the April 10th shoot. There will be 25 stations with two 3D targets at each one so it should be a great day out for Ireland's field archers. Over the last few months James Moloney and Brendan McHugh have organised an indoor range at the Sports Center in Foxford and meet there once a week. They also passed through the recent IFAF Level 1 Coaching Instructor courses and will be offering beginner courses in the next few weeks which will expand MAC membership and see it move forward to another 21 years.