On this International Women’s Day, we would like to celebrate Nora Herlihy, one of the founding members of the Credit Union movement.
At a time when women were not prominent in Irish society, Nora Herlihy, from Ballydesmond on the Cork-Kerry border and who attended secondary school in Newcastle West; played a pivotal role in the foundation of the Credit Union movement; along with Sean Forde and Seamus P. MacEoin. Teaching in Dublin in the 1950s, Nora witnessed the poor living conditions, hunger and sickness caused by the high levels of unemployment in the city. Many people were in the grips of moneylenders. Nora set about putting in place a plan for people to control their own finances and went to study the co-operative system in operation in other places in the world.
On the 6th March 1954 with Thomas Hogan, Nora formed the Dublin Central Co-Operative Society. It was set up to help create employment and to tackle the affliction of emigration. Nora continued in her studies and soon the fledging Credit Union movement was born. The first two Irish credit unions were founded under Nora’s guiding influence. Nora also became the secretary to the ILCU on its founding in 1960 (then called the Credit Union League of Ireland); and it operated from the main living room of her house in Dublin for many years. Nora stood beside President Éamon De Valera, who was raised in Bruree on the Athlacca Road, when he signed the 1966 Credit Union Act into law.
Nora passed away on 7th February 1988, the 28th anniversary of the founding of the ILCU. She left a powerful legacy in a thriving credit union movement.
We would like to acknowledge the incredible work and contribution made by Nora Herlihy which continues to help communities throughout the country.