A History of Ford’s Cork, Ireland Facility

Henry Ford & Son, Ltd. was established in Cork, Ireland in 1917 to manufacture Fordson tractors, but later branched out into vehicle production, including the Model T, the very last of which in the world was produced there. Ford Motor Company archive photo

(Editor’s note: Ford of Ireland will be celebrating its centennial next month. @FordOnline is taking a look at the company’s history.)

Henry Ford and Son, Limited; a tractor manufacturing company; was established on the Lee River in Cork, Ireland in 1917 to produce Fordson tractors.

The first tractors rolled off the Cork line in July 1919 and helped Britain with agriculture efforts during and after World War I.

The factory had many problems with production, including pricing differences – several countries in Europe could get Fordson tractors from New York at cheaper prices than from Ireland.

The facility stopped making tractors for several years, beginning in 1922. The plant then made Model T parts for the Manchester, England facility as well as some engines. But by 1928, the Cork plant was again manufacturing tractors, until it began assembling cars and trucks in 1933.

The Cork facility ceased assembly operations in 1984, but still operates as the headquarters for Ford of Ireland's operations.

Other notable moments of Ford’s history in Ireland:

  • The longest serving Ford Motor Company employee was Sir Patrick Hennessy. He worked at the Cork Ireland facility for 58 continuous years. 
  • In honor of Henry Ford, a stainless steel Model T was placed in the Ballinascarthy countryside in September of 2000. Participating in the ceremony was Edwin J. Nolan, then-managing director of Ford of Ireland.
  • Henry Ford traveled to Ireland in 1912, making an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Ford ancestral home. He then attempted to purchase the same type of stones used to construct the home, but they never made it back to America.
  • Henry Ford named his home in Dearborn and one of Ford’s best-selling cars after the street his ancestors lived on in Ireland – Fairlane.
  • The Cork Ireland plant later exported Escorts, Cortinas and Sierras to Britain before closing in 1984.
  • Then-company president and Henry Ford’s grandson, Henry Ford II, visited the Cork plant in 1954. 

Ford of Ireland 100 Years

Historical photos from Ford of Ireland

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