Ford celebrated its 100-year milestone at this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Cork City on Friday 17th March. Organised by Cork City Council, the theme of this year’s parade was ‘Cork – A City of Community, Culture and Commerce’.
To celebrate the company’s centenary in the city, 10 vehicles spanning 100 years of Ford participated in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and was led by a 1926 Ford Model T touring car with the Lord Mayor Cllr. Des Cahill and Grand Marshal Rachel Allen on board. The range of models also included: 1927 Ford Model TT one ton truck; 1929 Fordson Tractor; 1947 Ford Prefect; 1967 Ford Cortina; 1971 Ford Escort; 1973 Ford Capri; 1978 Ford Fiesta; 1984 Ford Transit; and new Ford Mustang. (See editor’s note for details on each vehicle).
A Ford 100 pageant created by Cork’s renowned Dowtcha Puppets also appeared in the parade. The pageant highlighted Ford through the last 10 decades, with retro style newspaper boys highlighting Ford key milestones from the past 100 years; ‘wacky racer’ style cars interacting with the crowd, each representing a decade of Ford; a three metre tall Henry Ford himself made an appearance followed by performers representing Ford factory workers. Completing the pageant was a 4.5 meter high Ferris wheel (depicting the Ford assembly line) that displayed 10 classic Ford cars including an autonomous driving car of the future.
“With the actual centenary of Ford in Ireland falling in just four weeks’ time (on April 17), what better way could we celebrate our rich legacy in this great city, Henry Ford’s ancestral hometown. Cork City Council really excelled themselves this year with a tremendously well-organised parade full of colour and fun,” said Ciarán McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland
The lead vehicle in the parade was a 1926 Ford Model T Touring car which was produced in the Cork plant at the Marina. The Model T is regarded as the first affordable car that brought motoring to the masses. The last Model T ever built in the world rolled off the line of the Cork plant in 1927. Owned by William Cuddy and driven by Michael Rigney.
The 1927 Ford Model TT one ton truck was also produced in Cork – based on the Model T but with a heavier frame and rear axle, this truck was the Ford Transit of its time. Owned and driven by William Cuddy from the Irish Model T Ford Club.
The Fordson Tractor from 1929 was manufactured in Cork and played a vital role in the first 15 years of the new factory at the marina. Driven and owned by Keith Bryan from Waterfall in Cork who has a collection of 30 Fordson tractors.
A 1947 Ford Prefect owned by Cork resident Jim Foley also appeared in the parade. The Prefect was the first post-war model to be assembled at the Cork plant.
Following the Ford Prefect in the parade was a 1967 Ford Cortina, built in the Cork factory, it was presented to former Taoiseach Jack Lynch on Ford’s 50th anniversary in Cork. Driven by a member of the West Cork Vintage Club.
The seventies was a busy decade in the Cork plant and participating in the parade was a 1971 Ford Escort which was driven by owner Bob Clarke from Bandon Motors. This was followed by a 1973 Ford Capri owned by Mark Ginn (a member of the Crosshaven Vintage Club) and driven by Alan Ginn – both of these models were two of the best selling cars in Ireland in the early 70s.
The 1978 Ford Fiesta is one of the oldest working models in the country and it was driven by owner Alan Deasy.
The 1984 Ford Transit is a restored AA crew Cab van and was driven by its owner Michael Ring, Ford Ireland’s Commercial Vehicle Manager. The Transit continues to be Ireland’s number one selling commercial vehicle and it celebrated its 50th anniversary in Ireland in 2015. A small number of Transit models were produced in the Ford factory in the late 60s.
The Ford Mustang, 10th car in the line-up, represents the Ford of today, the all new version of the iconic Mustang arrived in Ireland in 2016, the first time to be available in right hand drive. It was driven in the parade by Paul O’Sullivan from Ford Ireland and had former Ford factory employee, Gus McLaughlin, on board as guest of honour.