Ford has marked 100 years since Henry Ford & Son Limited was established in Cork on April 17, 1917.
In a week-long series of celebrations the great-grandson of Henry Ford and executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, William Clay Ford Jr, arrived in Cork to mark the centenary and participate in a number of commemorative events.
These included a visit back to the ancestral home of the Ford family. He unveiled a plaque in Ballinascarthy marking the centenary, and an event recognising the contributions of Henry Ford & Son Ltd pensioners at a civic reception hosted by the Cork City Lord Mayor Des Cahill.
Mr Ford also established the Ford Centenary Quercus Scholarship to commemorate the centenary, and it will run for five years, beginning with the 2017-18 academic year.
UCC’s Quercus Talented Students programme, has been running since 2015 and seeks to support and promote excellence for prospective undergraduate students and students already registered in UCC. The new Ford scholarship will target students who show outstanding promise in the areas of active citizenship and innovation/entrepreneurship.
Over the five-year scholarship period, the programme will help approximately 50 talented students to realise their potential and to fully develop their talents through educational and practical support.
The week-long celebration concluded with a gala event at Cork City Hall.
William Clay Ford Jr said he was "excited and honoured to be home in Cork to celebrate 100 years of Ford in Ireland".
“Ford has deep roots in Cork, not only through my family’s historical connection, but also through the impact that the Ford factory has had as an engine for prosperity for the area over many decades,” he said.
Henry Ford’s father, William Ford, with his siblings and parents, emigrated from Ballinascarthy, Co Cork, to the US in 1847 during the Famine and Henry was subsequently born in Michigan in 1863. Always proud of his Cork roots, he came back to the city and opened the first purpose-built Ford factory outside North America here in April 1917.
Commenting on the centenary, Ciarán McMahon, managing director of Ford Ireland, said although the factory was "sadly no more", Ford remained one of the best-selling brands in both the car and van market in Ireland.
“Several of our models including the Fiesta, Focus and Transit are segment leaders, while the new Mustang is in a class of its own.
“The company is also looking to the future as we plan for the next century of business in Ireland,” he said. “Ford is the company with the largest test fleet of autonomous driving vehicles in the world, and in 2017 we will start testing autonomous vehicles across Europe. The company is moving from traditional vehicle manufacture to being a smart mobility solutions provider as we tackle the global mobility challenges of the 21st century.”