18 October 2019
By Mary Bermingham
The Cork Chapter (XI) of Credit Unions launched ‘Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories’ a book about credit union volunteers in Cork. The book launch took place Thursday, 17th October 2019 in the Rochestown Park Hotel at 12 noon. The launch coincided with International Credit Union Day, a worldwide celebration of the positive impact of credit unions on their members and communities, and showing that credit unions are ethical, member-focused providers of excellent financial services.
The book was created through a collaboration between Cork Credit Unions and the Centre for Co-operative Studies in University College Cork. It captures narratives, memories, anecdotes and experiences from credit union volunteers across Cork, as told in their own words. The book uniquely captures the stories of the first volunteers and those that have followed them.
A special connection exists between the people of Cork and their credit unions. A key figure in the establishment of the Irish credit union movement in the 1950s was a Cork woman, Nora Herlihy. Her vision of ordinary people developing a better way of providing themselves financial service has been continued by volunteers since. Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories is filled with touching and inspiring first-hand accounts. As Prof. Patrick O’Shea, President of University College Cork commented, “This book uniquely captures the stories of those first volunteers, and those who have come after them, in their own words.”
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories includes interviews and photographs of the volunteers who shaped Cork credit unions and those who continue to shape it today. It also acts as a timeline of Cork credit unions, starting from humble beginnings and growing to become the most trusted and reputable financial service providers. “The beautiful and inspiring stories detailed [in the book] capture the essence and unique nature of credit unions and their volunteers”, remarked President of the Irish League of Credit Unions, Gerry Thompson.
When speaking about the book and the volunteers it includes, John Colbert, Chairman of Chapter 11 Credit Unions stated “It tells of the impact the credit union has had in their personal lives and in the life of their communities.” The Irish credit union movement has been truly volunteer led and continues to be so to this day. Credit unions are not for profit and exist to serve their members – a refreshing concept, if not a revolutionary one!