Nora Herlihy Credit Union Founder


Nora Herlihy Credit Union Founder

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Nora Herlihy was a founder member of the Irish League of Credit Unions. She was born in Ballydesmond on the Cork – Kerry border in the year 1910 and was one of a family of 12 children. Her father Denis was the National School principal in Ballydesmond - died young in 1929 leaving her mother to rear the large family on her own in hard and difficult times.  Nora qualified as a National School teacher and taught in Dublin with the Irish Sisters of Charity in the 1950’s. There she witnessed what living conditions in Dublin were really like. The poor were living in dreadful conditions not that the people of Ballydesmond were living in clover! 

Nora experienced the civil war and the effects it had in her local  village and many  surrounding areas. She saw houses in her own village burned down in revenge by Crown Forces because of an Ambush at nearby Tureengarriffe Glen by a local I.R.A. Brigade. In Dublin Nora witnessed very bad housing conditions,  hunger, sickness everywhere because of high unemployment in the City. She had pity for these unfortunate people who had no way of solving their problems. These people struggled to manage their money and many of them were in the grip of money lenders. Nora Herlihy set about putting in place a plan for these people to take control of their finances. She studied the co- operative system.

On the 6th March 1954 with a Mr Thomas Hogan Nora formed the Dublin Central Co-Operative Society.  It was set up to create employment and to tackle the scourge of emigration. Nora carried out further research into the idea of Credit Unions and soon the fledging Credit Union movement was born. The first two Credit Unions were established under the guidance of Nora Herlihy.  One was in Dun Laoghaire and the other in Donore   Avenue. The Credit Union League of Ireland now known as the Irish League of Credit Unions was formed in 1960 and Nora Herlihy was its Secretary. Also in 1960 the Civil Service Credit Union was formed with Nora again as co –founder and member. She was unselfish in the time and effort she put into setting up the credit union movement and encouraging others to work together for the common good. In 1967 the Credit Union Act came into being.

Today there are more than 521 Credit Unions affiliated to the Irish League of Credit Unions with a membership of 2.9 million and reserves of €11.9 billion plus  volunteers totalling 9,200. All of this giving employment to 3,500 people thus keeping alive Nora Herlihy’s theme of all working together for each other and when you think about it all this is the achievement of a lady from a small rural community on the Cork – Kerry border called Ballydesmond whose foresight and determination   has to this day enriched all our lives.  It was not always easy for Nora.  Nora Herlihy died on the 7th February 1988 the 28th Anniversary of the founding of the Irish League of Credit Unions. She is buried in the local cemetery in Ballydesmond. There is now a very fine Credit Union building in the village dedicated to her memory. It is known as the Nora Herlihy Memorial Centre and it houses a Museum that contains many articles and items associated with this local girl. Ballydesmond G.A.A. also honoured Nora by erecting an iron archway over the main gate to the football field reading -





Birth place of Nora Herlihy

Birthplace of Nora Herlihy, who was a founder member of the Irish League of Credit Unions.


Nora Herlihy Headstone

Nora Herlihy, a founder member of the Irish League of Credit Unions, is laid to rest in Ballydesmond cemetery adjacent to St. Patrick's Church.