Ford marks 100 years in Ireland

Salthill native, Ciarán McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland, with a Ford Model T.
Salthill native, Ciarán McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland, with a Ford Model T.

In just a few months, it will be exactly 100 years since Henry Ford established the Ford factory on the Marina in Cork City, and Ford Ireland plans to mark the centenary through a number of initiatives in 2017.

Ford has launched an extensive marketing campaign based around the company’s Irish centenary, while there are many activities, promotions and events planned throughout the year.

“Ford has a unique heritage in Ireland, not only through the company’s close family links with Cork but also through the Cork Ford factory and of course many decades of much-loved Ford cars and vans on Irish roads,” said Ciarán McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland.

“And we are still to the forefront in the automotive sector in Ireland with the widest network of dealers, providing employment, directly and indirectly, to some 1,000 people across the country,” he said.

The Ford Motor Company was set up in Michigan by Henry Ford in 1903, and 14 years later, he opened the first purpose-built Ford factory to be located outside of North America at the Marina in Cork.

Henry’s father, William Ford, emigrated from Ballinascarty in Cork with his parents and siblings in 1847 during the Famine; Henry was born in Michigan in 1863. Growing up on the family farm, Henry developed a strong interest in mechanics. At first, he concentrated his efforts on making work easier for farmers, but he soon came to realise the potential of the motor car.

When it came time to expand the business to Europe, there is no doubt that Henry’s Cork roots played an important part in his decision to open a plant in Cork. In his own words, he hoped that the new Ford plant “would start Ireland along the road to industry”. The setting up of the Ford plant in Cork was the first example of foreign direct investment in Ireland, many decades before the term was even coined.

The company that he legally established was entitled Henry Ford & Son Ltd. and that continues to be the legal name of Ford in Ireland to this day – the only Ford entity in the world to include the full name of the company’s founder in its title.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.