The West Cork ancestral home of Henry Ford, the Ford Motors founder whose Model T revolutionized transportation in the United States, opened to the public in September following a €20,000 renovation project. Located on what is now the 200-acre “Ford Farm,” the home is a traditional stone-built, single-story cottage believed to date from the 1700s when the Fords emigrated from England as tenant farmers, and in which Ford’s grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather were born. The opening came as part of the 6th annual Ford Heritage Event and saw roughly 4,000 attendees.
Left in a sorely run-down state, the house and surrounding farm were bought by Vivian Buttimer, a Ford descendant. “We re-roofed it, rebuilt the walls, and replaced the doors and windows, including installing a traditional half-door,” she told The Irish Examiner. The cottage now has a corrugated iron roof to protect it from the elements, and the center hopes to eventually furnish it with traditional 18th and 19th century furniture.
“They rented 44 acres to begin with. The first settlers were Thomas Ford and his brothers in the 1700s.” Ford’s father John was born in nearby Madame and emigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1847 during the Famine.
Henry Ford himself remained committed to Ireland, opening an assembly plant in Cork that at its peak employed 7,000 workers before closing in the 1980s.
Interestingly, today Ireland remains the only country where Ford Motor Company isn’t officially called Ford Motor Company. “After Henry came over to visit Ireland in 1917 he wanted to open a Model T facility in Cork, and his Board of Directors said, ‘No chance. We’ve got other priorities,’” Ford’s great-grandson Bill Ford said at the 2012 Irish America Business 100 Awards.
“So he took his own money and built the Model T plant, but he couldn’t call it ‘Ford Motor Company,’ so he called it ‘Henry Ford and Son.’ And so, to this day, Ford’s name in Ireland is, legally, still Henry Ford and Son.” ♦