One of the more remarkable aspects of the closure of the Ford plant in 1984 was that so many people were left reeling in surprise.
Despite being aware of the demise of other assemblers, as well as being ‘conditioned’ by management over the previous two years, the news came as a huge shock to many.
While the workers had anticipated bad news, few, it appears, had anticipated the plant’s complete closure.
Ford historian Miriam Nyhan says: “Interviews I undertook with former employees revealed that while many were shocked by the announcement, an almost equal proportion had anticipated the factory’s demise.
“‘There had been talk about it for years’ was one typical response, as was ‘It came as a bombshell’.”
Nyhan quotes one former director, who noted: “Nobody in Ireland believed Ford would ever close. It just couldn’t happen, they said. Ford was there since 1917.
“But it did, and we knew that we’d have to close it because of the onset of mass production. You had to have automation and you couldn’t have that unless you were doing 200,000 units a year. We were doing much less than that.”
But just as the gains over the 67 years of the plant had been more than financial, so too were the losses.
One Ford worker, speaking to Nyhan two decades after the factory closed, said sadly: “I haven’t gone down to the plant since it stopped, no... it wouldn’t be the same.
Ah, the plant was the plant. It was the people inside it, it was the people inside it.”