Here are some of the songs that were inspired by Ford in Cork

Many songs have been written about beloved Ford cars, both in Ireland and the US, some invoking jazz influences, or the rattle of Tin Pan Alley, writes Jimmy Crowley.

 

A few years ago, I met Fermanagh singer Thomas Maguire, who gave us this vibrant, country-flavoured ballad about Henry Ford from his recorded repertoire.

Thomas tells me it was written by Henry McMahon from Big Tom’s famous Mainliners.

Every time I pass that Model T statue in Ballinascarthy, it tugs at something somewhere. When I tell folk in America that the Fairlane was called after Fair Lane, in Cork city, and the Fords lived in the county, they don’t believe me.

The Ballad of Henry Ford

In eighteen forty seven,

When skies were dark and grey,

Two men left Ballinascarthy

Bound for the USA.

Their names were John and William Ford,

A father and a son,

They went to live near Michigan

In a place they call Dearborn.

 

William met a girl and married;

They had a baby boy,

His parents called him Henry

He was their pride and joy.

At sixteen years he went to work,

Got an engineer’s degree,

The man who put the world on wheels,

When he built the Model T.

 

Now we celebrate one hundred years

Of Henry and his car.

There’s a Ford in every country

No matter where you are,

The Mustang and the Maverick

Fairlane and Galaxy

All bear the name of Henry Ford

Who built the Model T.

 

The Model T rolled off the line

Across the States and back,

Any colour you could ask

As long as it was black.

Henry Ford did not forget his roots,

From where his Daddy came;

He built a giant plant in Cork

In honour of his name.

 

Now if you’re in Cork city

And you have some time to spare;

Swing west to Ballinascarthy,

To see the statue there;

A replica in stainless steel

For everyone to see

A monument to Henry Ford

Who built the Model T.

 

Now we celebrate one hundred years

Of Henry and his car

There’s a Ford in every country

No matter where you are

The Prefect and the Anglia

Cortina and the Capri

All bear the name of Henry Ford,

Who built the Model T.

 

Now we celebrate one hundred years

Of Henry and his car

There’s a Ford in every country

No matter where you are

The Focus and Modeo,

With mobile and CD,

All bear the name of Henry Ford,

Who built the Model T

Read more: Ford's survival in a city embroiled in war

The Dagenham Foundry

Come all you hardy Fordson lads and a story I’ll tell to you

Conditions were rough; the work it was tough in 1942

At 17 years I had no fear as I sailed from Penrose Quay

Nor did I shirk a strongman’s work in the Dagenham foundry.

 

There were men from every nation in that 20,000 force

But take it from me the foundry were all Irishmen, of course

From the office door to the furnace roar the accent as a rule

Was the one you’d meet down Patrick Street, Blackrock or sweet Blackpool.

 

There were tinkers, tailors, jewellers, bakers — I knew a solicitor too

Didn’t matter at all whether furs or shawls were the clothes your mother knew

At the fettling wheel you ground the steel with the smoke the sweat and smell

I saw strongmen drop in the knock-out shop that was only one step from hell.

 

On Saturday if they had the pay the Paddies would go along

To sink a jar in the Chequers Bar and sing an Irish song

When bombs did fall we effed ’em all from Berlin to Coventry

And we sang away about Graball Bay and our city by the Lee.

When McAlpine’s crew rolled in for a brew the natives went to bed

For those Culchie Macs with fists like rocks ran wild and blood was shed

But tractor steel and the fettling wheel builds a man of muscle and bone

And the Cork lads knew a trick or two and we battered McAlpine home.

 

To broad highway and tunnel clay those men came from the West

Where the big trucks roared and concrete poured the Culchies were the best

From bog and glen those mighty men to Britain gave their all

Their work long-done; their youth long-gone as autumn leaves they fall.

 

Some old have grown far from their own on England’s busy streets

Where none would say, it’s a grand soft day and rare a friend you’d meet

On bedsit squalor in old age pallor the evening shadows fall

And boyhood dreams and young men’s schemes are gone beyond recall

 

It’s over 60 years or more since I was in my prime

But true to tell, I’m wearing well and knocking our airy times

For men may come and money will go and the songs of the night will pass

Here’s to our health, ’tis our only wealth when they’re putting us out on grass.

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