Does it really mater if he stole the land?
Does the fact that Henry Ford’s grandfather William, pretty much forced the local Cork inhabitants from their lands in the name of Queen Elizabeth, take the shine off the legacy?
And should there really be a shrine to them taking centre stage in the so-called ‘Rebel County’?
Traveling through Co.Cork earlier this month brought me through the tiny village of Crobane. Never heard of it before myself, but I have heard of one of it’s former inhabitants. Henry Ford’s grandfather William Ford (1826-1905), was born in Co.Cork. Henry was particularly proud of the fact.
The family initially settled in Co.Cork during the latter half of the sixteenth century. At the time, Queen Elizabeth I granted some 600,000 acres of confiscated Irish land to English gentlemen, prompting the Ford family to leave Somerset, England and join other protestant settlers in the Irish province of Munster.
John Ford, Henry’s grandfather, lived in the family home on the Madame Estate in Crobane, Ballinascarthy. But in 1847, at the height of the Famine, John was forced to uproot his family and make the gruelling voyage from Queenstown (Cobh) to Quebec. William, then 21 years old, also joined the family on the trip, which his mother, Tomasine Smith Ford – Henry’s grandmother- did not survive.
From there, the Fords travelled to America, where John’s three brothers emigrated in the 1830’s. The arduous journey finally ended in Dearborn, Mitchigan, where in 1848, John bought an eight-acre farm from a fellow Cork man called Henry Maybury.
The story ends, as you know, with the eventual formation of the Ford Motor Company.
Now, personally, I’m not so sure that I would be clinging on to something that started off with the confiscation of Irish lands in the name of England?
Look where all that got us here in Ireland ever since… while the Irish American’s were building Empires of sorts.
Ironically my first car when I was 17 yrs old was a crappy old Ford Fiesta. It was rusty, blue and cost me £1500 pounds sterling. I loved it of course!!!