THE decision to close the Rathmore branch of AIB has been met with dismay by locals who have described the move as "sucking of the lifeblood from the community".
The State-controlled bank has decided to close one in four of its branches including four in Kerry; Rathmore, Park Road Killarney, Waterville and Tarbert.
Reacting to the news this week, locals in the East Kerry town of Rathmore have stressed the difficulties the banks closure will have on elderly people and the business community.
Diarmuid McCarthy, of Rathmore Community Council, described the closure blow as a further sucking of the lifeblood of the community.
"It is a pity and a shame. The community had a wonderful relationship with all of the staff," he said.
"A lot of people used the bank, from Rathmore, Ballydaly, Barraduff and halfway to Millstreet."
Mr McCarthy said banking options for the older members of the community would be greatly reduced, with Millstreet now the nearest AIB branch to Rathmore.
"It is especially hard on older people. The internet is a cold kind of a thing. If you needed to lodge a cheque, you could go in and meet people. It will be hugely missed, it was a lovely part of our community," he said.
"It was here for 24 years and all of the customers had a personal relationship with the staff. It's another business closed down in Rathmore."
"Aside from the internet, the other option is Millstreet. It is a pity to see the lifeblood being sucked out of the community, especially for older people. The bank was part of their social life. Going to the bank was a social outing. It was usually a very pleasant experience."
Mary Dilworth, of St Joseph's Day Care Centre echoed Diarmuid McCarthy's sentiments and said the closure of the AIB branch would raise security issues for local business people.
"It will make life very hard for older people and raise security issues for business people that used the bank to lodge their takings. Millstreet and Killarney are much longer journeys," she said.
"Rural Ireland is being hit left, right and centre.
Our garda station is barely hanging on and we are using the post office as much as possible to keep it going."
Frank Buckley, proprietor of Cahill's Bar adjacent to the AIB said it had been 23 years since the branch had been opened by Rose of Tralee Sinead Boyle.
"It will be a loss. I will have to go into Millstreet to use the nightsafe. It will make it very awkward, not only for me but for other business people," he said.
"There was quite a bit of activity there, for the four days of the week that it was open. It's so sad to see it."