Bank's slogan 'rings hollow today'
WE'RE not used to scenes like this in our bank branches -- customers with eyes red from crying, hugging the bank manager.
But it was a day of goodbyes in Rathmore, Co Kerry, and a steady stream of people called into the local AIB branch with flowers and good luck cards for manager Mary Murphy and her staff.
Yesterday, the branch closed its doors for the last time, one of 44 nationally within the group -- and one of four in Co Kerry -- shut as part of a rationalisation of its branch network.
By next year, 67 branches will have closed, a move AIB describes as "regrettable" but "necessary".
"Mary has been like a mother and a sister to everyone here," said local woman Mary Rose Casey, who has banked with AIB since she came to Rathmore 42 years ago. "I'm very upset that it's closing."
Ann Cahill Buckley, who owns the bank premises with her husband Frank, and the adjoining property, Cahill's pub, had seen many changes at the AIB bank, once the courthouse and before that the Munster and Leinster Bank. Part of the building was once a morgue.
"Mary will be sorely missed. It won't be the same when we have to go to Millstreet," she said. And while it was sad farewells in Co Kerry, in Co Donegal customers adopted a more militant approach.
Business people in Moville, Co Donegal, handed over a petition to the local AIB manager during a protest demanding that the bank overturn its decision to close the branch next year. The East Inishowen Business Association collected 1,400 signatures from the local community.
"Their famous advertising punchline 'Be with AIB' is ringing very hollow in our ears today," said vice-chairman of the association, Michael Doherty, who runs a car dealership. AIB plans to close eight branches in Co Donegal, including Moville.