Former manager of Hibernian Bank in Cork could have been the man that Henry Ford counted on

When rumours started to swirl about Ford opening an arm of its empire in Cork, the Irish banking world was desperate to land the account, writes Jessica Casey.

And the man who sealed the big bucks deal can now be revealed — Hyacinth Pelly, manager of the Hibernian Bank in Cork, according to his family.

In the January Ford 100 supplement, we told the story of how a Hibernian representative tried to intercept Henry on his ship on the way to Ireland in 1912. However, it appears the deal was done in the US — by train.

Pelly, the youngest of a family of 20 — yes, 20 — children from Killimor, Co. Galway, moved to Cork with the Hibernian around 1910, says his grandnephew, Niall Pelly, of Dublin.

Niall says when his grand-uncle got wind of Ford’s plans for Ireland, he wanted to stay a step ahead of competitors and set off on a trip to the US to woo the man himself.

“My understanding was at some stage between 1910 and 1917, when the factory started construction, my uncle went over to the States, on his own accord,” Niall says. “When he got to New York he missed the train to Detroit, so hired his own. Ford was so impressed with the whole thing that when he arrived he gave him the account.

“When Hyacinth arrived back in Cork and all the other bank managers were on the quayside, looking to do business, he already had it in his pocket. I don’t know whether the story is far-fetched, but my father told me and he believed it.”

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