About the Credit Unions

About the Credit Union in Ireland

The Irish credit union movement was founded as a result of the efforts of three dynamic, pioneering and entrepreneurial people, namely Nora Herlihy, from Ballydesmond, a teacher based in Dublin; Sean Forde, an employee of Peter Kennedy Bakers, Dublin; and Séamus P. MacEoin, from Kilkenny, a Civil Servant working in Dublin.

In Dublin in the 1950's, they witnessed the effects of high unemployment: sickness, malnutrition, money-lending, hunger, poor clothing, poor housing, and inevitably, emigration of one parent or of the whole family. In addition, state unemployment benefits were low and did not last indefinitely leaving many families in abject poverty.

The founders recognised the root of the problem as lying in the scare availability and poor management of money and resolved to identify a system that would allow people to gain more control over their finances.

What is a Credit Union?

A credit union is a group of people who save together and lend to each other at a fair and reasonable rate of interest. Credit unions offer members the chance to have control over their own finances by making their own savings work for them. Regular savings form a common pool of money, which in turn provides many benefits for members.

Each credit union is owned by people like you, the members, who both save with, and borrow from it. As a member, you will receive a dividend, if declared, on your savings and you have access to loans at fair and reasonable rates.

What are the benefits of a Credit Union?

The big difference between your credit union and any other savings account is that members own the credit union. Our Philosophy has always been to look at things differently.

The core idea is this:

  • Savings with the credit union are called ‘Shares’. In northern Ireland, minors (anyone under the age of 16) savings are called 'Deposits'. Some credit unions also have deposit accounts
  • Each share you hold is eligible for a dividend should your credit union declare one
  • In the event of your death your credit union savings are insured - subject to terms, conditions and eligibility criteria - at no direct cost to you
  • No matter how much you have saved, all members aged 16 or over, have equal voting rights on issues affecting their credit union


A credit union is an organisation of people - for people. It exists only to serve its members - not to profit from their needs. Credit unions are non-sectarian and non-political, and continue that Irish tradition of co-operative self help.

It’s the money that members save with their credit union that provides the money to lend to other members. So everybody benefits because any surplus that is generated is returned to members as a dividend or as a loan interest rebate. Alternatively, the surplus can be used to provide enhanced services to members.

The credit union movement across Ireland is one of the most successful in the world.

In Ireland over 2.9 million members have recognised the value of credit unions and have savings approaching €11.9 billion. There are over 9,200 active volunteers involved in the movement, and over 3,500 people are employed.

It has been shown throughout history that by working together people can achieve far more through co-operation than by individual effort. The success of the credit union movements worldwide is a clear illustration of this. Credit unions have served their members well in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and as long as there are active members, they will continue to do so.

At the core of everything we do, we uphold a different, people-led way of looking at things, a way that is benefiting millions of people, in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

What products & services are available at the credit union?

Please go to What We Offer section for information on the services provided by credit unions