Fords:- Memories of the Line

Fords – Memories of the Line

Maldron Hotel, Friday August 2nd 2019 at 5.00 pm.

A Documentary by Frameworks Films and Ford Ex-Workers’ Group.

Fords production line at Cork’s Marina plant – Photo courtesy of Bill Daly

This documentary was shown at the festival in 2018. Unfortunately many people were unable to gain access last year. Following many requests it will be repeated.    

The Fords factory became synonymous with Cork in the sixty seven years in which production was carried on in the Marina plant.

Henry Ford’s father William had left from Ballinascarthy, in West Cork in “Black 1847”, while his mother Mary Litigot (of Belgian extraction?) was the adopted daughter of Patrick Ahern who was born in 1804 at Fair Lane (now Wolfe Tone Street, on the north side of Cork city). Patrick Ahern had worked as a butcher before joining the British Army and eventually wound up in Michigan, USA. Henry was born in 1863, and he was raised by William and Mary in the Ahern household.

Henry Ford returned to Cork in August 1912 and visited Fair Lane. Later in 1917 he announced the construction of his first factory outside America. The old Cork Park racecourse on the Marina on the south bank of the River Lee was purchased for £21,000 and was levelled and piled. The new 330,000 sq. foot factory was constructed and began the production of the Fordson tractors on 1st July 1919.

By 1922, some 1600 men were employed. Later as Model Ts were manufactured along with tractors and the final Model T in the world was completed there in December 1928. The payroll quadrupled to 6700 until the impact of the Great Depression in the early 30s when there were mass layoffs. Thousands of former Cork production workers headed for the new Ford truck plant in Dagenham, Essex in the UK.

Group of Cork workers at Fords Marina. Photo courtesy of Bill Daly

The factory worked on through the Second World War, unions were finally fully recognised by Ford’s in Cork in the early 50s, and wages were higher than most other employments. The Cork factory produced all the other main Ford vehicles including the Model A, Model BF and Model Y; Prefect; Anglia; Escort; Cortina; and Sierra.

By then, the production/assembly line originally invented by Ransom E Olds and first implemented by Henry Ford in 1913 and used in Cork. This brave new world was sacrosanct, like a vein running through living organisms, the constant noise, the smells of the different processes, yet it had to keep moving, it must not stop, the vehicles, slowly taking shape shuffle forward in a never ending line and then continue their journey out of sight.

The daily working lives of thousands of men were dictated by the constant movement of the line, repetitive jobs, the systematic deskilling of many men, the daily deadening grind, the original time and motion study. Time was measured by passed hours and the number of jobs completed on the vehicles as they passed through the various work stations in slow motion or with alarming pace depending on one’s job and mind.  Work was constant, hum drum, tough, and some jobs on the line were particularly difficult.

However many memories of working relate to the comradeship, the ‘craic’, the chat, the banter, the ongoing and never ending Cork slagging. Tea-breaks, lunches, the endless sports discussions, soccer, hurling and the pints with colleagues at week-ends. Ford paid well and the community of workers and work had its own distinctive rhythm.

Fordsons soccer team, (the “Tractor Boys”) popularised association football in Cork in the early 1920s, the team was the first club from Cork to play in the League of Ireland in 1924 and won the Free State Cup in 1926. The club’s pitch was located at Pic Du Jer Park in Ballinlough which was owned by Ford.

Emma Bowell (2nd from right) with Eddie Noonan of Frameworks Films with Ann Rea and Bill Daly (left) at last year’s festival

Thousands of Corkonians passed through the Marina plant, in its blue and white colours, many families had several members working and the thronged mass of workers walking up and down Centre Park Road at clocking on/off times bore testament to the world of assembly work.

But time caught up with Fords and sentiment, the final impact of closure in 1984 left a deep wound on the people of Cork. Over 30 years former workers have come together to tell their own story of working in Fords. It is a story of life, work, the fun, the friends and the bonds which maintain the links between groups of workers who shared their lives at a Cork institution.

It is a workers film of working life…….a rare and priceless documentary.

Fords – Memories of the Line provides a fascinating insight into a Cork institution by those who worked on the line and is a must see for those who worked at Ford’s or for anyone with family members or friends who worked below on the Marina. Even now in 2019 ironically comes news that Fords is set to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in developing new facilities at Corktown in Detroit as the Marina site transforms slowly into the Cork Docklands development.

 

 

 

 

Mother Jones & Her Children DVD now available

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Mother Jones And Her Children is a 52 minute long documentary which outlines the extraordinary life and activities of the most famous Cork woman in America. Produced by Emma Bowell and Eddie Noonan of Cork based Frameworks Films (www.frameworksfilms.com) in cooperation with the Cork Mother Jones Committee. Highly recommended.

DVDs (€10 each) are available from Jim Nolan at 22/23 Shandon Street, Cork.
DVDs incl.package and postage within Ireland are €12 each.
Package and postage to UK, Europe or USA €14 each.
For bulk purchases, contact Jim on 086 1651356.
Send postal order or euro draft or euro cheque payable to Cork Mother Jones Committee to above address.

You can view a short (2 minute) excerpt from the film below.

 

Mother Jones clip from Eddie Noonan on Vimeo.

Cork Indie festival to show new Mother Jones film

As part of the Cork Indie Festival, On Sunday 19th October, the new documentary by Frameworks Films “Mother Jones and Her Children” will be shown at the Gate Cinema, North Main Street, Cork starting at 12 noon. Congratulations to director Emma Bowell and Eddie Noonan of Frameworks Films on this truely amazing account of the extraordinary life of Mary Harris/Mother Jones. All Mother Jones supporters are very welcome.
Indie Cork is a fMotherJonesA3PosterLowRes-Copyestival of independent film and music which runs in a number of venues in Cork city from 12th to 19th October 2014.   The festival champions independent film productions from Cork, from Ireland and from around the world.
For more information on the festival and the film “Mother Jones and her Children” visit www.indiecork.com or www.frameworkfilms.com

 

Mother Jones and her Children – film premiere

Eddie Noonan of Frameworks Films, filming on location at Mt. Olive cemetery, Illinois with Dave Rathke and Terry

Eddie Noonan of Frameworks Films, filming on location at Mt. Olive cemetery, Illinois with Dave Rathke and Terry Reed.

Emma Bowell of Frameworks Films (right) with author / historian Marat Moore  on location in New York.

Emma Bowell of Frameworks Films (right) with author / historian Marat Moore on location in New York.

 

Eddie Noonan from Frameworks Films on location in Chicago with author Elliott Gorn

Eddie Noonan from Frameworks Films on location in Chicago with author Elliott Gorn

A new documentary on a unique woman from Cork will be screened at 8pm on Friday 1st August in the Firkin Crane, Cork as part of the Cork Mother Jones Festival 2014. ‘Mother Jones and her Children’ has been produced by Frameworks Films, a Cork based film production company, in collaboration with the Cork Mother Jones Commemorative Committee. ‘Mother Jones and her Children’ outlines the life of the most famous Cork woman in America – Mary Jones, formerly Mary Harris. The documentary tells of her extraordinary life – her early years in Cork, her survival of the Famine and emigration to Canada, her move to the US and her marriage to George Jones, her life as a mother to four young children, her tragic loss of her entire family and later her business, her entry into the labour movement and her growing involvement in organising workers to the point where she is dubbed ‘the most dangerous women in America’. With contributions from leading experts on Mother Jones, the documentary will restore her memory, particularly in her native city.

The documentary will also be broadcast on Cork Community Television on Saturday 2nd August 2014 at 8pm (available on Channel 803 on UPC’s digital cable package) and streamed live on www.corkcommunitytv.ie ‘Mother Jones and her Children’ was produced with the support of the Sound and Vision scheme, an initiative of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. For further information, please contact Frameworks Films on info@frameworksfilms.com or 021-4211010.