THE years rolled back as Pat Savage, the chairman of Charleville Credit Union, took a trip down memory lane in his address to the attendance at the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the branch in March 1963, at the Charleville Park Hotel, following the celebration of a commemorative Mass at Holy Cross Church.
Founded in economic conditions similar to today's Ireland, the branch was set up by a group of innovative and idealistic locals led by the town's Joe Lambert, who saw the need to empower ordinary people through access to banking facilities, which had been denied them up to then by the main stream banks.
Mr. Lambert, with the assistance of then Catholic Curate, Rev. Fr. Joe Kenneally assembled a group of like minded people to conduct a feasibility study with the help of the credit union movement's founder in Ireland, Ms Nora Herlihy. After completing their deliberations the group elected a committee, formed the Charleville Credit Union branch, the first rural town in County Cork to do so, and opened for business in the local Courthouse at the junction of Main and Broad Street on March 19, 1963.
Mr. Savage took the audience on a journey through Charleville town of the 1960s, encountering local people as he progressed through the various streets. He paid tribute to the various people who had worked in the branch over the years, particularly former managers, Pat Woods, "who built a great foundation," and Kevin O'Shea, "whose imagination and vision will forever be remembered by the magnificent building that is our Credit Union building."
Mr. Savage concluded by that over the last few years our faith in big business, the church and state has been severely eroded and it now appears that that the priority of large organisations is to protect itself whatever the cost. "Answering, not to the vagaries of the stock market, or the belief that profit triumphs over all, we follow a simpler message. That we can grow as a community by working together, that we are all equal and have the ability and talents within ourselves to help make decent lives for ourselves," he said.
Presentations were made to the founding members present or to their representatives, namely, Ms Eileen White, Joe Lambert, Finbarr McCarthy, Michael Byrnes, Ms Bride Allen (daughter of Harry Allen), David Rea (son of Tom Rea), Jacqueline Morrissey (daughter of Milo Morrissey), Victor Nugent (son of Bill Nugent), Mary Creagh (daughter of J. J. Creagh), Very Rev. Sean Canon Cotter (for Rev. Fr. Joe Kenneally).
The manager of Charleville Credit Union, Annette Kiely, paid tribute to founding members and praised the staff, committees and boards of directors through the years and thanked them for their hard work and dedication. Ms Kiely pledged that this work would continue into the future under her stewardship as she was passionate about the whole ethos of the Credit Union.
Founder members Joe Lambert and Michael Byrnes spoke of the early days of organising the branch and of the role Golden Vale played in its progress, respectively. Other speakers from the floor included Sr. M. Celestine and Dr. Martin O'Donnell.
Presentations were also made to board members Pat O'Riordan and Tony Connolly and Ms Elizabeth O'Connor, the longest serving member of staff at the branch.