My grandfather’s Ford business was trail-blazer in Longford
Congratulations on the 100th anniversary of Ford in Ireland.
My grandfather, Michael Connolly, is reputed to have set up the first Ford agency in Co. Longford, before the Ford factory in Cork opened in 1917.
My mother often recalls him talking about the first car in Longford, which was a Model T IX 1.
I have a wonderful photograph (below) of the agency taken around 1917-19 if you look very closely, you can just see a car peeking out of the garage door.
I understand from my mother that her father had the agency until perhaps the 1930s or 1940s when it was taken over by the Hanlons of Longford.
My mother told me a story of all the children being packed into one side of the car to go to boarding school and immediately climbing out of the other side, much to the frustration of their mam... she only had 14 children to take care of after all!
I would love to hear of any information anyone may have on my grandfather and Ford.
Readers can email information to email@example.com or I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The day my father met Dev at the Marina
Well done with your Ford 100 magazine in January.
You might be interested in the photo (below) of my father, Hugh O’Kane, meeting Eamon de Valera in the Ford factory in Cork when he was visiting the plant on September 9, 1936.
At the time, De Valera was President of the Executive Council, and when the new Constitution was enacted the following year, he assumed the role of Taoiseach.
My father was the Financial Director in Ford at the time, having joined the company in 1922, we believe.
He played an integral role in the company and worked there until his retirement in 1958, by which time he was Company Secretary and Finance Director. Sadly, he passed away in 1966.
My mother, Elizabeth (Lil) O’Sullivan was also an employee of Ford. Until she married my father, she was the private secretary to Patrick Hennessy, who went on to oversee the Dagenham plant, became Chairman of the UK operation, and received a knighthood.
Rare colour shot of Ford employees taken in the 1950’s
The Ford 100 supplement in January was great.
I am sending you a photo (below) of my grandfather, Dan McNamara, of Rochestown, Co. Cork (far left), who worked in Ford all his life, along with two colleagues on the Marina site.
We still have my grandfather’s gold watch he received on his retirement. I think the photo was taken in the 1950’s, as he died in 1960.
My father made front page news
I have seen with interest some of your articles regarding Ford in Cork.
My late father, Donal Buckley, worked there and would have read every word of the articles — he loved the place to bits and was devastated when it closed.
He appeared on the cover of Ford News in 1982 (circled) with his colleagues in the Seat Assembly department after they won a Good Housekeeping award.
The copy of Ford News also reported on a visit by two bishops of Cork to the plant, the unveiling of two new Ford cars at the Geneva Motor Show — the Escort RS1600i and the Ghia Quicksilver — and the fact that the Cork Ford soccer team had beaten Dagenham to reach the final of the Ford Europe Cup for the first time. There was also an article on the 50th anniversary of the Ford V8 engine.
Dapper gents at a Ford dance
I have been enjoying your features on the Ford centenary.
My father, Pat Muldowney, joined Ford in February, 1930, and was the personnel manager there for quite a number of years.
My brother, Gregory, also worked there from September, 1959, to May, 1979, in the sales office. He is 75 years old and in great form and has good stories to tell about Ford.
I am sending a photo (below) taken on Friday, December 2, 1938, on the occasion of Ford’s first annual dinner dance. My father is in the middle in the front row.
I still have a bureau/bookcase which was given to my father by his colleagues at Ford in September, 1940, on the occasion of his marriage to my mother.
I am also sending photos of some Ford manuals that I have in my possession, some showing the Cork address of Ford, and the Fordson tractor manual showing Henry Ford & Son Ltd, which I suspect dates to 1919. I also have a red Fordson tractor instruction book from Dagenham, dated 1933.
Supplement stirred many memories
The articles in the January supplement were great and were not rose-tinted either, which I liked. But, for the times, Ford seems to have been a benevolent employer. Indeed, by any times.
The supplement stirred many memories.
I am sending you a photo of my mother’s sister, the very elegant Kathleen Halligan, with her not so elegant Thames van in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, in the 1960s.
She was not the most confident of drivers: “How’s things behind, Lar’?”, she would ask the 12-year-old me after she had eventually found the reverse gear.
The Ford Thames 400E was a commercial vehicle and 187,000 were made from 1957 to September, 1965.
My first ‘real’ job was as an apprentice merchandiser in clothing wholesalers FV Shanahan, in South William Street, Dublin, in late 1970.
My bus route was the 44 from Enniskerry and the nearest return stop in the evening was on Merrion Street, directly opposite Leinster House.
Jack Lynch was Taoiseach and his State car was a black Ford Zodiac (or perhaps Zephyr) which emerged from the building many times as I waited for my bus.
My father owned a 5 cwt Thames van in the early 1960s — WZA 853 and red. We had it for years where we lived in South County Dublin.
In the late 1970s, he purchased a saw bench powered by a 1960s Cortina 100e unit which was in use until he died in 2002.
A friend from primary school is a brilliant mechanic and fitter. When I told him a few years ago I was thinking of buying a Focus, having never owned a Ford before, his reaction was: “You won’t go too far wrong with Henry.”
Memories of US trip in 1964
You ran a photo in the January supplement of Ford staff and dealers from Ireland visiting Henry Ford’s home in the US in 1964.
However, the Ford dealer from Cahir was my father, William Cyril Burke — not Donal Burke as stated. Donal was in fact William’s brother.
William was a main Ford dealer in Cahir, Co. Tipperary — Cahir House Garage was in The Square in the town. He had five sons, James (deceased), Patrick (deceased), William C, known as Cyril (my father), Sean (deceased) and Donal. Patrick and Cyril worked at Ford in Cork.
After reading the January supplement, I went through our photo albums at home and found two more pictures from the same trip in 1964 (above and right). Would you believe — my father recently found his Ford badge which he wore in Michigan?!
Man who was first dealer for Dublin
My name is Ness Porter Kelly, my grandfather was RW Archer of Archers Ford dealership in Dublin, and my father was Bob Porter, the chairman of Archers following his father-in-law’s retirement.
I am sending you a photo of imported Ford cars on the docks at Waterford in 1913 (right), which pre-dates the establishment of Ford in Ireland. It includes RW Archer, his wife Hilary and Hilary’s brother.
The family submitted their papers on Archers Ford to the National Archives in August, 2015, and an article by motoring historian Bob Montgomery provides some background on the garage.
In 1907, RW Archer attended the second Motor Show, organised by the Irish Automobile Club, at the RDS in Dublin. There, on the second stand on the right from the main entrance door, he caught sight of the first Model N Ford to reach Ireland. The stand was modest, consisting of a polished chassis, a standard runabout, and a crimson painted two-seater.
Despite their light appearance, when Archer examined them he discovered that they “combined solidity with good engineering”. An invitation to “sit on the tip of the wing and see if you can bend it” from the stand attendant went a long way to dispelling any doubts he may have had on that front. In fact, the whole car was built from Vanadium steel, then just beginning to come into use.
RW Archer decided to become the Ford agent for Ireland and recalled: “Rosy vistas of large sales to impatient and enthusiastic buyers filled my brain, but — ah, me! I was young and sanguine, and it took many years of uphill work before the Ford came into its own in Ireland.”
A major sticking point with buyers was the contention that Fords were too “spidery” for Irish roads and wouldn’t fit the ruts on byroads. This contention proved hard to dispel, in spite of his offers to prove the car did fit the ruts made by country carts.
A turning point for Archer and the early Ford cars came when a Mr Bate of the Ford Motor Company in England arrived late one evening at his garage with a new design, the Model T.
This was the first time Archer had heard of the new model and a brief run through with Bates made him realise it would be a world-beater.
Cork hackney business owners adored Fords
Here are a couple of photos of classic Ford cars from the 1940s which I would love to see included in your series on Ford 100.
The men in the photographs are my father, Paddy O’Shea, and my grandfather, Patrick F. O’Shea, who were the owners of many Ford cars in their hackney business in Glengarriff, West Cork.
My father is pictured with his brand new V8 Custom Fordor Sedan at the Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff in 1949, and my grandfather is pictured with his 1946 Ford Deluxe Woodie Station Wagon near Gougane Barra, West Cork, in 1950.
When my father was pictured in 1949, big US designed cars were a not uncommon sight on Irish roads. The previous year, he had returned to Glengarriff after a stint in the Middle East with the RAF, and joined his father in their shop and hackney business in the West Cork town.
At the time, tourism was beginning to recover after the war years, and offered good opportunities for a young man willing to work long hours as a chauffeur.
Most of the British tourists who visited Glengarriff would have come by ferry to Cork and then gone either by rail to Bantry or been picked up by car at the quay in Cork. This service, together with all the various excursions they would take during their stay here, would be serviced by the local hackney drivers.
My father recognised that to provide this service he needed a good, modern vehicle and ordered his Ford from Kenmare Motor Works. He picked it up from the Marina factory himself.
The V8 Custom Fordor Sedan was the most modern car on the market at the time, with Ford first off the mark with a revolutionary three-box configuration, stealing a march on rivals Dodge and Chrysler who hurried to catch up.
The car’s Flathead V8 engine gave it bags of power and with the wide bench seat and three-speed column change, it could carry as many as five passengers in comfort.
My father had the car for four years and after 84,000 trouble-free miles, he traded it in for the newer Ford V8 Customline in 1953.
He also ran a couple of Ford V8 Woodie Station Wagons. These were extremely popular and reliable workhorses based on the pre-war Ford saloon but with bodywork that was primarily made of wood!
They were the original MPVs, although they weren’t much longer than a saloon car. Their seats allowed for as many as eight passengers plus the driver and they also doubled up as transport for all manner of merchandise such as groceries, bicycles, furniture, animal feed, wool, and, on occasion, coffins!
There was a great temptation to overload them, and this, coupled with the poor rural roads of the time, showed up their one design flaw — replacing leafs on the rear springs was a common occurrence, often undertaken on the roadside!
In 1958, my father, always the Ford man, traded his Woodie in for a Mark 2 Consul, which could do the same work as the Customline with far better fuel economy.