Goldwings have been part of the Irish scene since 1976, but difficulty with spare parts and some bad Bike Press kept their popularity from spreading. With the arrival of the GL1100 more people became GoldWing owners and although some of us had heard of GWOCGB and their magazine ‘Wing Span’ we had little contact with them or any other Club.
Then Peter Ward from Cork met Dave Horner while he was on a trip to Britain. Sometime later we had cause to contact Harry Ward of Wing World, President of GWOGB when a British Wing owner broke down while on holiday in Ireland.
At the Harp Rally in 1984 Margaret Nolan and Margaret O’Regan got together and talked about the possibility of starting an Irish GoldWing Club. In 1985 the Hooded Cloak Rally was the first rally of the year on the Irish scene. A number of Gold Wing owners from Ireland and abroad were expected to attend. So it was, nearly a decade after the first GoldWing came to Ireland that the inaugural meeting of the GoldWing Owners Club of Ireland was held. Those present were Margaret O’Regan, Andy Deane, Margaret and Robert Nolan. Despite the short notice Philip and Barbra Arundel, Keith Rigley and Alan Barbour of the GWOCGB cane to wish us luck and give us moral support. A committee was elected and a simple constitution was worked out.
Chairperson: Margaret O’Regan
Vice Chairperson and Secretary: Margaret Nolan
Committee Members Robert Nolan and Andy Deane
At this stage a large Club was not envisioned; the population of Ireland being 3 1/4 million. Believe it or not it was thought that we would have to be affiliated to GWOCGB but this changed later when Margaret and Andy went to the Belgium Treffen at Easter 1985 and met with the GoldWing European Federation (GWEF). They welcomed our club with open arms and gave us their blessing and support. So we were now affiliated to GWEF but we retained our Irish identity. Membership cost £12 single and £15 joint.
In October (3rd-6th) of 1985 our first Treffen was held in a luxurious hotel, the West Lodge in Bantry. Despite some awful weather (thanks to the tail end of Hurricane Gloria) a great time was had by all. Cork was celebrating its 800th anniversary; we were welcomed by the Lord Mayor, Dan Wallace in the City hall and made honorary citizens of Cork.
We had 72 people (including 3 children) at that first Treffen. The word Treffen means a meeting of friends and each August somewhere in Ireland the spirit of that first Treffen is renewed.
Inscription cost £62 for 3 nights B&B + a four course dinner each evening.
At first it was thought that everyone attending would be staying in the hotel but a camping option was added at a cost of £48. The awards were jugs filled with the best West Cork poitin.
Over the next few years the Club grew from where it was still small enough to have our AGM in each other’s homes, to what it is today. In addition to our annual Treffen we held poker runs and WingDings /Dropouts(Club weekends). In those pre-internet days we also issued a Newsletter a couple of times a year and a annual membership list. Together with the Irish Motorcycle Action Group we organized an annual motorcycle show in Cork, where thanks to Club member Philip Arundel we had the first GL1500 on show. Honda who took a stand at the show were unable to get one in time. Some of our members became instructors with the new Star Rider Scheme after receiving training from members of British motorcycle police trainers.
1988 the year of the Dublin Millennium (who remembers those special milk bottles) saw the Treffen move from Bantry to Glendalough. We took the Wings into Dublin (without Garda escort until we met one in Donnybrook). Flagged him down and told him we were late for the Lord Mayor. Had a civic reception in the Mansion house with the Lord Mayor Ben Brisco and then had a tour of Guinness. At the end of the year we had £955 in the bank, happy days.
November 1992 saw the affiliation of the Club to the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (MCUI) (Southern Centre) and through it to the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). By this time our committee had grown, along with the Club and we had a Technical rep along with Regional reps and a Quartermaster whose first job was to look at the possibility of getting Club sweatshirts. We held regular meetings with the other Clubs who made up the touring section of MCUI and took a leading role in organising protests against the threatened ‘anti-biking’ laws being proposed in Europe. There were also joint touring club events organised, where we learned three wheels were better than two when it came to the skills events.
1994 The big news that year was that the FIM held the World MotorCycle Congress in Dublin. GWOCI was represented when we provided bikes to line the walkway into a reception sponsored by the Isle of Man. Joey Dunlop was the guest of honour and we all got to see the senior T.T. trophy up close. The early plaques on the trophy not only had the winner’s names but lap times and the amount of fuel used. The Club regions held their own Christmas parties for the first time. The Chicago Pizza Pie Factory was the venue for the Leinster folk. The Touring Clubs held their first Charity motorcycle run in aid of Barnardos and over £ 1,500 was raised. If you had £26 you to could be the proud owner of a GWOCI Club jacket, in green with zip off sleeves it proved to be very popular (some members still treasurer theirs). And the (in)famous South Anne St Sunday mornings started as well as the Christmas Santa visit. We had 176 bikes inscribed at our Treffen in 1995 and 95 bikes in the Club comprising of; 23 members with GL1500; 29 – GL1200; 20 – GL1100; 11- GL1000; the most popular GL1200 was the Aspencade with 13 bikes. We had 6 sidecars and 6 members riding other bikes. 1996 was the first year our Treffen was held in the Glen of Aherlow. The venue proved very popular and over the years it was used for AGM’s, birthdays and other Treffens. 257 inscriptions at 1997 Treffen in the Glen and GWOCI members were travelling more with 10 bikes at the British Treffen, 8 bikes in Belgium and we took 8th place in Luxembourg.
1998 At last GWOCI members had an alternative when it came to bike insurance with the arrival of Carole Nash Emerald insurance. When they first entered the market they only quoted for clubs affiliated to the Touring section of MCI and the vintage and veteran club. This was a big win for us and saved members a lot of money. Ballyvaughan in Clare became a favourite party place for the Club.
1999 GWOCI became a limited Company on 25th February. Company no. 302296. This was the year our membership application/renewal asked if you had an email address, not many members had.
2000 Regions were getting more involved in their own areas, attending fund raising runs, pram pushing and wellie throwing competitions. Providing escorts for the Chernobyl guys, bike shows such as the Limerick show, the Irish whiskey festival in Foynes and the vintage rally in Mosney. Club dropout weekends continued to be a success Salthill and Puckane where we went more than once and of course the ever popular St Patricks day parades from Castletownbere to Letterkenny, Tallaght to Ardee, Cork City to Sligo, GoldWings were there. In 2001 the Connaught Region changed its name to Western Wings and the position of Child Officer was added to the Committee.
The 2003 Treffen in Ballybrit, Galway broke all records with 308 inscriptions, the parade of Nations brought the City to a halt. We had 306 members in the Club and they were travelling more and attending more overseas treffens. For a few years the Club took part in the Dublin Paddy’s Day Parade while some members also took part in the Belfast Lord Mayors Parade. Another Committee member was added to the ranks. In 2002 Steve had worked on the Club Website, it was now up and running, Eamonn Toner reported that in 2004 the site had 6,000 hits.
The Club Logo (Patch) was changed slightly in 2005 when the Irish flag replaced GWOCI. Members help marshal 541 Honda 50s when they broke the world record for the Guinness Book of Records. We had 342 inscriptions in Bandon and the North West Region changes its name to NorthWest Wings.
2006 Saw the re-emergence of the club Newsletter. A Celtic Wing ding was held just before the Irish Treffen which helped establish links with our Celtic Cousins. Over the last few years the numbers attending our Treffens have settled down (as with other Clubs across Europe) making planning easier. In 2009 we celebrated our 25th International Irish Treffen in Gorey Co. Wexford and even managed a few firsts (after all these years), A Treffen DVD and Camel racing, if you weren’t there just watch the DVD.
While many friendships have been made through the Club and we have had very good times we also have had some sad times. Over the years we have lost friends, people we would never have met if it wasn’t for the Club, people who we are honoured to have known, people whom we will never forget. To start naming names here would be wrong, better for us to remember them with a smile and a wish that they are enjoying some fine weather, good roads and the craic at their own Treffen where we’ll all met up someday. [/size]
It is hoped that our history will continue to develop. Thanks to all the people who helped us in the past and we look forward to a bright future for the Club.
2011 We are facing into the future with a strong membership, good finances and a new Website. Thanks Steve, Ciaran and Dylan for all the hard work on the website, it’s now up to us to make use of it.
These ramblings reflect my own memories of the Club. They only skim the surface. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please get in touch I would love to hear from you