Hook arrow ceremony signals start of brighter days
By David Looby
THE narrow road to Hook Lighthouse was lined with sea foam as cars arrived on New Year’s Day from 7.30 a.m. for a ceremony that dates back to 1687. An outcrop of rock behind the 800-year-old Hook Lighthouse was the destination for the Dunbrody Archers, New Ross Municipal District officials and some curious onlookers, all braving the cold to witness a spectacular start to 2022. The tradition dates from 1687 when the mayor and the corporation of New Ross Town Council claimed their authority over the waters by travelling to Hook and shooting an arrow into the sea from Hook Head Lighthouse. The Mayor of New Ross, casting the arrow into the sea, symbolises the port of New Ross’s authority over the estuary of the Barrow and the Suir all the way down to Hook Head. The ceremony did not take place last year due to the outbreak of Covid-19 within the community, but was back with gusto this year. As dawn’s blue light broke, (with not a hint of sunrise for snap happy photographers), newly elected chairperson of New Ross council, Bridín Murphy from Clonroche – joined by councillors Anthony Connick and John Fleming – were shown how to use the bow and arrow by members of Dunbrody Archers. The Dunbrody Archer members, founded in 2004 and now one of the largest archery clubs nationally, assisted Cllr Murphy in ‘the arrow ceremony’ by unleashing a volley of arrows into the air at the historic headland. The scene was all the more spectacular in front of what is the oldest working lighthouse in the world – which dates back to the 13th century, and was from the fifth century the scene where local monks lit fires on the headland to keep the ships at sea safe. With the roiling Irish Sea churning up massive waves, and sea foam flying about, it was a rush for the senses to be present at such an event unfold in front of the lighthouse – which was built by the knight, Sir William Marshal – who also built the port town of New Ross along with Kilkenny Castle, Ferns Castle and Tintern Abbey.