Credit Union members soar over 50-year history
An organisation which had 48 members at the end of 1964 now has 27,000 on the books.
The 50th anniversary of the Enniscorthy Credit Union was celebrated with an ecumenical service in St. Aidan's cathedral.
National ILCU president Martin Sisk, who received some of his early education in the town, came from Armagh to take part in the prayers.
Worship was led by cathedral administrator Father Richard Lawless, joined on the altar by recently appointed Presbyterian minister Reverend David Conkey.
The congregation, which included Town Council cathaoirleach Johnny Mythen (35 years a member) was given a history of Enniscorthy CU.
It was recalled that half a century ago, four banks had branches in the town but they concentrated their activities on the wealthy. The remainder of the population was at the mercy of money lenders who could charge extortionate rates of interest. The change began when a notice was circulated in 1964 by pharmacist Tom Kelly and jeweller Louis Kerr, calling people to a public meeting at Bennett's Hotel in Templeshannon.
Just 35 interested persons responded but that sufficed to start the ball rolling, with the establishment of the credit union. The cooperative philosophy of the organisation was, as it remains to this day, to pool available funds for the common good.
The 17 original directors were Tom Kelly, Louis Kerr, Michael Treacy, Pat MacGill, Charles L Cullen, Patrick F Farrell, Dennis O'Connor, Monica Conlon, John L Kickham, Paul Murphy, Aidan O'Leary, Margaret Murray, William Roche, Tim Counihan, William Hastings Browne, Patrick Bourke and Jim Burke O'Leary – all now deceased with the exception of Aidan O'Leary.
The Athenaeum was the initial headquarters, open one hour a week. By the end of the first year the savings held amounted to just over £243 (about €309) – compared with €135 million today.
As the credit union grew, it moved, first across Castle Street to what is now Siopa Bróg and then to the current Vodafone shop at the top of Slaney Street.
It provided a full time service there, under manager Seamus Comerford.
In due course, the demand for service dictated a shift to Abbey Square and the current purpose built offices – located between the two remaining banks left in Enniscorthy.