Salthill native to lead events marking Ford’s 100 years in Ireland

William Clay Ford Jr with Ciarán McMahon, chairman and managing director of Ford Ireland, and a native of Salthill.
William Clay Ford Jr with Ciarán McMahon, chairman and managing director of Ford Ireland, and a native of Salthill.

Monday of this week marked exactly 100 years since Henry Ford established Henry Ford & Son Limited on the Marina in Cork, his ancestral home city.

It also will kick off a week-long series of activities that will see the great-grandson of Henry Ford and Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, William Clay Ford Jr, arrive in Cork to mark the centenary and participate in a number of commemorative events, including a visit back to the ancestral home of the Ford family.

“I am excited and honoured to be coming home to Cork to celebrate 100 years of Ford in Ireland,” Ford said. “Ford has deep roots in Cork, not only through my family’s historical connection, but also through the impact that the Ford factory has had as an engine for prosperity for the area over many decades.”

Henry Ford’s father, William Ford, with his siblings and parents, emigrated from Ballinascarthy, County Cork, to the US in 1847 during the Famine and Henry was subsequently born in Michigan in 1863. Always proud of his Cork roots, he came back to the city and opened the first purpose-built Ford factory outside of North America here in April 1917.

This week, William Clay Ford Jr attends a commemorative event at Ballinascarthy and will unveil a plaque marking the centenary, as well as attending a gala event at Cork City Hall.

Other planned activities will include an event recognising the valuable contribution of Henry Ford & Son Ltd pensioners at a civic reception hosted by the Cork City Lord Mayor, Cllr Des Cahill. There will also be an event at University College Cork announcing a partnership between Ford and the university.

Of course, Galway and Ford have a rich history, with a number of dealerships in the county over many years. Higgins Motorpark remains the longest-serving Ford dealership in the country.

Following the opening of doors at Higgins Garage in Galway at the back of where Matt Flaherty’s chemists is, 1912 also saw Henry Ford pay his first and only visit to Ireland to explore fulfilling his plans to set up the first full Ford factory outside North America.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.