Upsurge of archers thanks to Game of Thrones
Cult fantasy series Game of Thrones and the medieval epic Vikings have led to an astonishing upsurge in young people taking up archery in Ireland.
It was Viking invaders who, in the 10th century, according to an ancient text, first brought their "sharp, swift, barbed, murderous and poisoned arrows" to Ireland.
Hundreds of Viking arrowheads have been discovered in recent excavations in Dublin, Waterford and Limerick and the Irish word for 'bow' - 'bogha' - is derived from Norse.
But it is the Irish-Canadian TV series Vikings filmed in Wicklow which charts the brutality of life among marauding Norsemen which has captured the imagination of youngsters, while Game of Thrones, filmed in Belfast and around the Glens of Antrim, is also credited with renewed interest in the ancient sport.
More than 300 archers from 30 countries will "invade" Bray in Co Wicklow this week to take part in a major international competition.
The spectacular surroundings of Kilruddery House and Gardens in Bray will be the backdrop for the World Archery Field Championships from tomorrow, running until October 2.
According to the sport's governing body, Archery Ireland, the hit TV series have given the sport a massive boost. "There's no doubt about it," said Archery Ireland vice president, Kevin MacDermott, "we have had hundreds of young people wanting to learn how to fire a bow and arrow since those TV shows began to appear."
Along with the competing archers, over 100 officials will also spend the week in Ireland. Combined with families and other supporters, the Championships will provide a considerable tourism and economic boost for Wicklow and South Dublin.
And Ireland will receive a further boost as the event at Kilruddery will feature live on Archery TV, which has hundreds of thousands of viewers across the globe.
The athletes will take part in five days of archery competition over three field courses in the grounds of Kilruddery House, culminating in the finals weekend hosted in the gardens adjacent to the 18th-century manor house.
The Championships, which are being supported by Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland and Archery Trade Association (ATA), will also feature trade displays and fun for all the family, who can test their archery skills on the finals weekend.
Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at wafc2016.eventbrite.ie.
Further information can be found at wafc2016.com.