In 1988 the Board of Directors reviewed the opening hours and decided to extend them for the benefit of our esteemed members. The Credit Union continued to grow apace and during 1993 Patricia Joyce was employed full time and Marian Glynn was employed on a part time basis. The office is now open from 9.30 a.m.to 5p.m. Monday to Saturday with late opening Saturday from 7p.m.to 9 p.m. Saturday evening service is provided solely by our voluntary workers.  This offers a total of 39.5 hours of service per week for our members. Possibly, the best in the Country!

The Board of Directors are committed to providing the best available services and security for our members. Security cameras with recording facilities are installed to deter would-be robbers. We have also fitted time-lock safes and are constantly reviewing security and services.

The Credit Union would not be successful without the dedication and commitment of our excellent staff and we acknowledge the tremendous contribution they have made to this success.

Brendan Melley was promoted to Manager in l982 and Greg Browne to Assistant Manager in 1992.

At present the additional services the Credit Union provides are: Commission Free Foreign Exchange, VHI at discounted rates, Home and Contents insurance through Home Union Insurance. We have also recently introduced the extremely popular Credit Union Drafts in Sterling and Punts. We are very much aware of falling interest rates and decided that from the 1st March 1996 the interest rate charged on loans would be reduced to 10% (APR 10.47). We have also introduced a range of other measures which will be to the advantage of the members who wish to borrow from the Credit Union. Details are available in the office.

It is the Board of Directors intention to provide facilities where members loan applications and interviews can be conducted in complete privacy. The Credit Union will continue to provide the “small” saver with an excellent rate of return on their savings.

At present legislation governing all Credit Unions is being debated in the Dáil. We have been reliably informed there will be many benefits contained for the members in this bill, which should be enacted in the near future. We believe the present five year borrowing period will be extended to ten years. The present maximum shareholding of £6,000.00 will be increased substantially and hopefully the life cover insurance provisions will increase accordingly. The details of these changes will be made available to members as soon as possible. The Credit Union has provided major sponsorship to many community events:

Parish Sports, Presentation College fundraising draw, Heritage Committee, Festival Committee, Primary School Quiz, The Athenry Journal and many more too numerous to mention.

Athenry Credit Union has also been active at National and Chapter level. Bertie Burns was a member of the Board of the Irish league of Credit Unions. Jim Flynn was Chairman of Chapter 16, Dick Smyth served as Auditor, Gerry McNamara was Secretary and Joe Dennison is the present Secretary of Chapter 16.

Today Athenry Credit Union has assets of over £9.25 million and a membership of over 7,000. The Credit Union celebrated its Thirtieth Anniversary in January of this year. With the continued loyal support of the membership Athenry Credit Union will certainly grow and prosper into the future. The Board of Directors confidently look forward to the challenges ahead and will endeavour at all times to serve the best interests of the members.

Athenry Credit Union has come a long way since the day of the “biscuit tin” in the Canton Hall. This is due in no small way to the innovation and foresight of successive Boards of Directors and Volunteers and Staff who have strived to provide the best possible service to the members. However it is you the members who for more than thirty years have contributed most to the success of the Credit Union. The Board of Directors thank you most sincerely.

Finally, Athenry Credit Union gratefully acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the under mentioned in the service of their Community: Arch-Deacon Conor Heaney, Dick Smyth, Donal Ó Cinnéide, Christy Barrett, Austin Corcoran, Tommy Coppinger, Maureen Burke, Bertie Burns, Marie Bean Ui Cléirigh, Gilbert McCarthy, Tom Lane, Jimmy Regan, Joe Conmy, Martin T. Kelly, Gerard Loughnane, Gerald Corbett, John Rabbitte, Breda Cawley, Val Niland, John Stack. Paddy Brennan, Jackie Monaghan, Maureen Healy, Jim Flynn, Gerry McNamara, Mattie Duane, Willie Hoyne, Jimmy Fahy, John Davis, Leo Coffey, Paul Browne, Mollie Smyth, Bridie Callanan. Frank Kilkelly, Noreen Hession, Helen Tully. Brendan Melley, Greg Browne, Michael McGrath, Finbarr O’Regan, Mary Shaughnessy, Muriel Nolan, Greg Rabbitte, Tommy McNamara, Christy Archer, Joe Walsh, Gerald Ryan, Marie Ryan, Mary Foran, Maureen Byrne-McKeown, Pauline McCarthy, Caithriona Cannon, Aine Foran, Ann Melley, Paula Cannon, Donna Shannon, Shirley Keane, Michael Duane, Eamonn Torpey, Kathleen Duane, Michael Browne and Michael Gardner.

Tom Lane P.R.O. Athenry Credit Union Ltd

As the membership of the Credit Union grew, it became apparent the immediate priority was to purchase a premises in order to provide a professional and confidential service to the members.

The Board of Directors spent many hours debating the raising of finance for this project. In 1972 the Treasurer at that time was the indefatigable Dick Smyth and in a discussion with Cormac Duffy, a Director of St. Anthony’s Credit Union in Galway, and now our auditor, appeared to have provided the answer. Cormac suggested that we ask the people of Athenry and its hinterland to grant loans to the Credit Union to facilitate the purchase of a premises.

Fortunately a premises at Old Church Street had been placed on the market at a price of £7,000.
The Credit Union at that time held assets of £300. Undaunted the Board of Directors set out a programme to visit the people of the parish and surrounding areas to solicit the pledging of a loan to Athenry Credit Union for an indefinite period, with a promise that when the Credit Union was financially strong a reasonable annual dividend would be paid to the lender. The people of the community were both magnificent and generous in their response and although the Credit Union was only in its infancy they showed great faith and tremendous courage in its potential.

The phenomenal total of £9,000 was pledged in a very short period of time. The Board of Directors were overwhelmed and encouraged by the verbal and financial support received from the local community. Athenry Credit Union owes an enormous debt of gratitude to those wonderful people. With their help and financial support Athenry Credit Union has thrived and prospered and is now one of the most progressive credit unions in the West.

Athenry Credit Union is also deeply indebted to the Board of Directors of that time, who were courageous enough to move forward and purchase the premises for £6,000 – Namely: Dick Smyth, Greg Rabbitte, Máire Bean Uí Chléirigh, John Stack, Donal Kennedy, Christy Barrett RIP, and Frank Kilkelly. The committee of Canton Hall donated four chairs and a table which was very much appreciated and the Credit Union was open for business. New members came flooding in. The official opening of the premises took place in 1975 with the blessing performed by the great Credit Union stalwart The Rev. Canon Conor Heaney P.P. and Máire Bean Uí Chléirigh had the privilege of cutting the tape. By that time membership had grown to 528 and assets to £78,929-48.

The next major step was the provision of a full-time employee, which occurred in 1978. We were extremely lucky to acquire the services of Brendan Melley who is now the manager.
Brendan is an enormous asset and his courtesy, diligence and willingness to be of service to the members has been invaluable in the growth of the credit union.

By 1981 it was necessary to employ a part-time person to help with the ever increasing volume of paperwork. The Board decided to employ Mollie Smyth.

It was in 1982 the Board of Directors who had absolutely no knowledge of these new gadgets called “computers” sat down to consider their introduction to the office. After travelling to other Credit Unions and viewing their systems and the magic they could perform, the Board decided that our accounts would be computerised. We received great help from Ken Cahill who was familiar with their awesome capabilities.

The first computer purchased was an Apple III which the Board of Directors decided was the most suitable for the needs of the Credit Union. To be honest the directors were terrified of the prospect of having to operate this machine. Our first priority was to input all the necessary information to get the system “up and running”. This was an enormous task, many long hours were spent ensuring all data input was correct. We received greatly appreciated help from Dr. Paul Nolan of U.C.G. He provided much needed technical assistance and advise over a number of years, which resulted in the provision of the necessary software to serve the purpose of the Credit Union. Finally on 1st January 1983, all our records and accounts were computerised and we were ready to roll. The computer proved to be of enormous benefit and saved many hours in providing reports to the Board of Directors, processing overdue accounts and compiling returns to the Irish League of Credit Unions.

The Credit Union continued to grow apace and in February 1986 the Board of Directors decided to employ Greg Browne on a full time basis. Greg immediately set about developing a networked computer system to cater for the ever increasing number of members and resultant transactions. The Board was conscious of the fact that although we had our own premises it did not provide adequate privacy for the members and did not have the capacity to cater for expansion. Early in 1988 a very prestigious site opposite the then office was advertised for sale. The Board had no hesitation in instructing our Solicitors to purchase this site. The purchase was completed on the 17th August 1988. It was then the real work began, we were fortunate to have Directors with experience in the construction Industry.

The Board appointed a building committee whose brief was to come up with an acceptable plan for the new building. Those appointed were Dick Smyth, Paul Browne, Mattie Duane, Leo Coffey and Willie Hoyne. They toiled for many long hours to provide a comprehensive structural plan. Many sketches were produced, amended and finally the bones of the new premises was on paper. It was then decided to employ Frank McNabb and Associates to complete scaled drawings for furnishing to the Planning Authority and also to act as Consultants on this project. Planning Permission was received on the 23rd January 1989. Tenders were then invited from competent building contractors.

After much deliberation, the contract was awarded to Tom Spellman. The formal signing of the contract took place on the 16th August 1989. It is worth noting that our first Lady President Helen Tully had the privilege of signing the contract on behalf of the Credit Union. Work on the site commenced on the 21st August 1989.

The workload on the building committee was hectic, they held weekly meetings with Tom Spellman and Jim McHugh (McNabb & Associates) and also furnished monthly progress reports to the Board. Fortunately for the Credit Union Dick Smyth had taken early retirement from the Department of Agriculture and as Chairman of the building committee he made himself available at all times. It was even suggested that he was the site foreman. Of course there were the usual problems associated with the construction of any large building and at times the building committee and the Board were very frustrated with progress. In the meantime we had agreed the sale of our existing premises and were to vacate it by the 2nd July 1990.

Simultaneously the membership was continuing to grow and the Board decided that in order to continue to provide an efficient counter service it was necessary to employ another person part time. Patricia Joyce was employed in May 1989.

The building committee kept pressure on the builder to complete the project on time. Fortunately we were able to vacate our premises and move all the equipment into the new office on the 28th June 1990.

It was a very hectic day and night with painters, carpenters, tile and carpet layers on the premises, but every job was completed on time. We proudly opened for business at 9.30 am on Friday 29th June 1990. Our first customer that morning was Carmel Kennedy and our first new member was Frank Stankard. Great credit is due to the building committee who steadfastly stuck to their task no matter what the problem and ensured the contract was completed on time. The members were lavish in their praise of the new facilities provided for their privacy and convenience. It was for the Board their biggest undertaking, not alone in terms of commitment but also a major financial consideration costing approximately a quarter of a million pounds. We relied heavily at the time on the advice of our treasurer Paul Browne who assured the Board that the project could be financed without borrowing a penny or affecting the Dividends returned to the membership. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Paul not only for his work on the building committee but for his astute financial advice, backed up with proper analysis which was always explained in detail to the Board.

The Board were anxious to hold an open week—end to provide the members with the opportunity of viewing every location in the magnificent new building.

This was held on the 5th & 6th of October 1990. Refreshments were provided which were welcomed by all members. Again great compliments were paid by and much encouragement received from the members. The Credit Union building stands as a landmark to the founder members who showed great courage and fortitude in the face of adversity in the formation of Athenry Credit Union. The present Board of Directors salute and commend their aspirations and ideals, we assure them the true spirit and philosophy of Credit Union lives on in Athenry.

The official opening took place on the 4th January 1991. This coincided with the celebration of our 25th Anniversary. The premises were blessed by Arch-Deacon Conor Heaney and Mons Michael Mooney P.P. R.I.R The honour of “cutting the tape” was performed by the then President Dick Smyth. Whilst the Credit Union had experienced great growth up to 1990, we were not expecting the surge of growth that occurred after we moved into the new premises. People were obviously becoming more aware of the benefits of Credit Union membership.

Even with the assistance of computers, it become necessary to employ Bridie Callanan part time in 1992. We have had one more very important stroke of good fortune which was Greg Browne’s computer skills. Greg’s input to the Credit Union has been phenomenal over the years. He has devised financial systems and written computer programmes to control every conceivable aspect of Credit Union operations. Other Credit Unions are envious of the superb quality and user friendliness of our computer system. Greg has done a magnificent job and is constantly updating our programmes to cater for an evolving situation. To have a member of staff with Greg’s expertise available at all times has proved a major advantage to us.

We are the only Credit Union in the country to have “on line” identity photographs available to our tellers as an aid in preventing unauthorised access to members accounts. We believe this, coupled with “on line” Signatures is a major boost to the security of members savings. Please co-operate when asked to have your photograph taken. We now have a fully networked computer system with a file server serving 5 workstations. Recent introductions to the system include automated transaction receipts, automated Loan application and Promissory notes. These have considerably improved the accuracy and ease of use of the system and also the service to members. We will shortly introduce automatically printed cheques.

The concept of Credit Union came to Ireland from Germany in the late 1950s.  The first Credit Union was established in 1958.

A number of meetings of people interested in the formation of a Parish Credit Union took place in 1965.  After many long hours of debate and encouragement of the local P.P. the Rev. Cannon Conor Heaney, Athenry Parish Credit Union was formed on 16th January 1966.  Tommy Coppinger became the first President, John Stack Treasurer and Máire Bean Uí C1éirigh Secretary.  Other Directors werd: Frank Kilkelly, Donal O’Cinnéide, Michael McGrath and Christy Barrett.  The first Supervisory Committee were, Dick Smyth, Joe Walsh and Christy Archer.

The first Office, a room in the Canton Hall, was given free of charge by the Canton Hall Committee.
The total savings on opening day was £9.  The seeds of Credit Union were sown on that day and have been nurtured by very active and innovative Boards of Directors and Staff over the past 29 years.  Today Athenry Credit Union has assets of almost £8 Million.