Monday will mark a significant milestone in the history of Ford, and indeed in the industrial life of this country.
On April 17, 2017, Henry Ford & Son Ltd will chalk up a century in business in Ireland.
It is a truly remarkable achievement.
The industrial and economic landscape shifts so quickly these days, that to contemplate 100 years of constant business, employment, enterprise and trade by the same organisation and in the same city is an event of great magnitude that deserves to be saluted and recognised.
That is why we have been taking time to reflect and remember the history of Ford in Ireland, in partnership with the Irish Examiner.
The first ‘Ford 100’ supplement in January demonstrated what we all know — that the people of Cork and Ireland have a great affinity with the motor company, which began when Henry Ford registered his Irish company in Cork on April 17, 1917.
Ford in the 21st century is a vast organisation, employing thousands around the world, but we remain very much a family company in spirit and ethos. The people in head office in the US will never forget their founder’s roots.
It has therefore been so heartening to see so many readers connect, both in print and on the newspaper’s online hub, with this centenary celebration, with many sharing their own memories and stories as members of the Ford family — whether it is people who worked at the factory on the Marina during its 65 years in operation, or motorists who want to discuss their love for the many popular models down the years.
It has certainly been a century of remarkable change since Henry registered his Irish company. At the time, Ireland was an impoverished part of the British empire and the world was in the throes of a calamitous war.
In opening his new factory on the Marina in Cork city in 1919, Henry Ford brought employment, wealth, industry, dignity and respect to the land of his ancestors.
For most of the 20th century, despite many recessions and economic setbacks, the plant stood tall and eventually entered the fabric of Cork society.
Its contribution to the city during many dark economic days was crucial.
Today, the top private sector employer in Cork is Apple, with a workforce of about 5,000 from a city population of 120,000. In 1930, when the population of Cork was about 80,000, Ford employed 7,000!
In 1917, Ford helped to give Cork and Ireland a future — and today, it is my privilege and pleasure to be at the helm of the Irish company as we reflect on that achievement, while we plot a course for a new and bold path to the future.
Ford has never left Cork and, make no mistake, we will still be here in 100 years’ time — and we will still be part of the city and country’s industrial story.
We’ve been on a wonderful journey for the past 100 years. Thank-you for being our fellow travellers.
We hope you will accompany us for the next stage of our journey, into a bright new future.
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