Henry Ford’s Irish connection

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ANTIQUE CARS: Including a 1928 Ford Model A at Greenfield Village Old Car Festival.

ALTHOUGH a veteran of many car brands, I had not realised my favourite marque was built by an innovative company inspired by a fellow Irishman.

I tried every car brand including the Seven Series BMW; what a mistake that was. The first car I ever owned was a Ford Prefect, bought for 50 sobs in the 60s. At the other end of life I am very happy with my third Ford Mondeo.

Okay, I know that Henry Ford was American born and bred. However, his father, William Ford was a 21-yearold Irish farmer when he left West Cork in 1847. Under Irish law this makes the venerable Henry Ford an Irish national.

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In 1912, the pull of sentiment lured Henry Ford and his son Edsel back to his father’s humble cottage and its 30 acres of land in Lisselane.

quotesThe first car I ever owned was a Ford Prefect, but now I am happy with my third Ford Mondeo.

Alas, three brothers were still resident. On the advice of a priest they refused to sell up. Henry, renowned for his pragmatism, withdrew his offer.

He did take away the cottage hearth but rarely returned. His family, and indeed his place of birth, still pay tribute to their esteemed son.

As with many Irish, English and Scottish family histories of the time, the Henry Ford odyssey is a fascinating saga of emigration and hardship.

His father, William, had settled into a farming community in Dearborn, Michigan. His son, Henry, born in 1863, seemed destined for life as a farmer.

It was in the farm’s outdoor sheds that he worked on the principle of the petrol driven motor car.

Having built his first car he founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903. The first Ford Cars were seen in Ireland in 1907 at the Irish Motor Show.

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