If life is a journey, then there’s a good chance that quite a few of you started yours in a Ford Fiesta.

With over 16 million sold worldwide since 1976 and at one time accounting for one in every 20 cars sold, this firm family favourite has been reinvented through seven generations and twice named car of the year.

The Ford Motor Company was founded in Detroit in 1903, with Cork being home to the first factory to be purpose built outside of America in 1917; a nod to Henry Ford’s roots in Ballinascarthy where his father William was born before emigrating in the 1830s.

The Irish factory, originally built to produce tractors, was within three years producing parts for the Model-T, bringing much prosperity to the banks of the River Lee during its 70 years of manufacturing.

My first car

My first car was a Ford Fiesta. It was jet black with white go-faster stripes and a clutch that dictated whether I got into work on time or not. With a large sticker helpfully pasted onto the dashboard by my Dad reminding me to “clunk click every trip”, Betsy, as I called her, had an enviable five speed gearbox which in theory could reach a bone rattling top speed of 95 miles an hour; although I can’t imagine with the roads at the time I ever got anywhere near that.

On the days that I could afford petrol, I would drive slowly around town, Duran Duran blaring from the cassette player, my elbow casually resting on the window which I had manually rolled down in the hope that someone would see me.

Kate Durrant

Pink furry dice

And although I never reached the heady heights of having a boyfriend’s name sit alongside mine on the sunstrip across the top of the windscreen- the 1980s equivalent of changing your relationship status on Facebook – I did have an outsized pair of pink furry dice which swung dangerously across my line of sight every time I turned right, and perfectly matched my fluffy steering wheel cover.

When I heard the news came over the radio recently that the last Ford Fiesta had rolled off the production line, I was sitting in my current car – electric, keyless, six gears, and still black but without the go-faster stripes, being of an age now where I want life to slow down; not speed up.

I thought of Betsy fondly, still my favourite car despite all those that I have driven since, remembering her sticky gears, leaky footwell and finicky clutch, and wondering if you ever get too old for a large pair of furry dice... bright pink of course!

About Kate: More often heard on RTÉ Radio One “Getting A Word In Edgeways”, Kate is excited to be sharing her thoughts with readers of Irish Country Living. Editor of The Muskerry News and Kenmare News.