Our thanks to Peter Ferguson for letting us have a glimpse of his native Ireland. His story helps to enlarge our understanding of the global 1967 VW Community.
First, Peter, tell us a little about your part of Ireland to give us some background. Most of us readers have little idea of your country.
Hi all, my name is Peter and I am 35 and married to Amy (12 years married) with three children: Rebekah (7), Daniel (4), and Caleb (18 months). I am an Anglican clergyman/pastor and live on the Emerald Isle (Ireland), currently serving in Carrickfergus just outside Belfast City. Our wee Country is blessed with some of the most scenic drives and countryside in the world, although is does rain a lot – that is why it is so green!
How did you first become interested in Volkswagens?
My love affair with all things air-cooled Volkswagen is due to one man, my late grandfather, George Megahey. He drove Beetles throughout his working and retired life. My earliest memories are, along with my two brothers, jumping into the back of his Beetle and heading ‘round the coast and along the waterways and little villages of the Ards Peninsula. I was intrigued with the shape of the car, so different from all others and how the tiny side windows popped out. One stand-out childhood memory is when my family would holiday at Newcastle Co. Down in view of the Mourne Mountains. Our grandparents would come to visit us. We would hear the whistle of the Beetle before we saw it and knew they were here! My brother and I would jump on the runner boards and hold onto the gutters while grandpa would drive us slowly and safely to our caravan!
Papa George worked at Harland and Woolfe shipyard in Belfast (incidentally so did my great grandfather, who worked as a cabinet maker–he would have worked on the Titanic and all those great ocean liners of times past). He told us how that in the winter months, his colleagues with their water-cooled engines would get frozen, but he would hop into his little Beetle and away he went every time!
Were Volkswagens imported directly from Germany into Ireland?
Yes. Volkswagens were imported directly into Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) from Germany. However in the Republic of Ireland there was an assembly line in Dublin which put together CKD cars from all the parts. These are rare and sought after today. One unique feature of the Irish built beetle is the shamrock logo stamped on the windows.
You mentioned a VW Club–are there still many Volkswagens in Ireland or, are they scarce?
At one time Volkswagens were a very familiar sight on our roads. Everyone of a certain age has a Volkswagen story. They were seen as cheap and reliable transport and as such were used for transporting kegs of Guinness to bales of straw in towns, villages and on farms throughout the Country. They would have been used and abused, so many didn’t survive. Now they are a rare sight, but there is a small yet growing community of Volkswagen enthusiasts throughout the Island – north and south. They are now seen as a prized and iconic vehicle and bring a smile wherever you go.