BY JOHN SEXTON
THEY came from the hills and the valleys in their thousands on Sunday last to the townland of Crohane¸ overlooking Ballinascarthy, to celebrate 100 years of Ford in Ireland.
Coming from an emigrant Irish tenant family to become one of the largest motor tycoons in the world is the amazing story of Henry Ford.
Performing the official opening of the event, Peter Love of Ford UK, who had travelled over specially for the occasion, traced the history of the Ford Motor Company during the early years of the 20th century and remarked that, when Ford saw the poor working conditions in Ireland on a visit in 1903, he decided to set-up a factory here. When he returned in 1917 with his wife and son, Edsel, with plans for a factory, he got a site at the Marina from Cork Corporation to provide employment for 2,000 men.
Ciarán McMahon, chairman and managing director of Ford Ireland, spoke in glowing terms of the work and endeavour of the West Cork Vintage Ploughing and Threshing Association for their foresight in planning this marvellous event. He said that every generation of Fords that visited Ireland left their mark by some means or another and, a number of years ago, Bill Ford planted a tree to commemorate 80 years of Ford in Ireland.
Proceeds from the event went to four local charities and representatives from each of these made a brief address as did Colette Twomey, acting Mayor of Clonakilty, and Denis Keohane, chairman of the National Ploughing Association. At the commencement of proceedings, Monsignor Aidan O’Driscoll blessed the site and all that went with the day, remarking how pleased and excited he was to see such a mighty complex.
Don Coakley, chairman of the organising committee, thanked the Ford Motor Company in Cork for all their assistance, and gave a run-down on all the various side-shows, including ploughing, threshing (back almost to the flail), combine harvesting, silage harvesting, etc and thanked all those who brought machinery, especially vintage machines.
Great interest was shown on the drum and corn roller operated by Hughie and his helpers.
We met Tom Fahey of Galway and David Rice from Kilkenny, both directors of the National Ploughing Association, who remarked to us how the event was like the Ploughing Championships, while Willie Spring of Spring Calf Pens told us about a similar event in Killarney this Sunday.
In the vintage machinery arena¸ pride of place went to the old Fordson tractors (the original of the species made in Cork) and the one exhibited by Jerry O’Sullivan of Ballinhassig was quite impressive.
Production of them lasted until 1945, when the model N was developed to become the E27N, affectionately known as
Hiigh Nellie, took over and lasted to 1952, when the modern Ford Major came on the scene.
However, it was the row of shining Model T cars that took everyone’s fancy, especially those exhibited by Bob Clarke (Bandon) and Gerry Crowley and his wife Una (Kilkenny).
The Buttimer family did Trojan work alongside the committee to make the venture such a success. Hazel Buttimer (nee Forde) was there to greet everybody, as was her son, Vivian, who outlined the history of the Fords, from Ballinascarthy to Dearborn and back, in a very comprehensive hand-out.