The Golden Jubilee of the foundation of Thurles Credit Union was celebrated at a well-attended function in the Anner Hotel on Saturday night last. Adding to the enjoyment of the occasion was the announcement of the People of the Year Awards, the annual acknowledgement by the Credit Union of the unsung heroes in our community.
Former directors, supervisors, management, staff and members were among a large gathering welcomed by D. J. Darcy, president of Thurles Credit Union. He extended a special welcome to Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Rev. Peter Cole-Baker, Supt. Pat Lordan representing An Garda Síochána, Mayor of Thurles John Kennedy, Sinéad Goldsboro representing “The Tipperary Star”, Pat Strappe from Thurles Lions Club, President of Thurles Rotary Club Jonathon Gleeson, and Paddy Barry from Thurles Chamber, the Awards adjudicators, and representatives from a number of neighbouring credit unions in the region.
In his address of welcome, Mr. Darcy said that, “while reaching a 50th birthday at any time is a cause for celebration, to reach it from the very modest conditions that prevailed in the late fifties and early sixties and to grow and mature in the manner in which Thurles Credit Union has done is a marvellous tribute to our founding fathers”. “This gathering is merely a small tribute to their vision, dedication and persistence, while the real monument to their work is the strong, vibrant and successful community financial cooperative we have today” he concluded.
Honouring the event, Jimmy Johnstone, president of the Irish League of Credit Unions, paid tribute to the founding members in Thurles who saw the need for financial cooperation in those difficult times in the 50’s and early 60’s through people helping themselves, and he commended all those involved fifty years later for staying true to those founding principles. He said the current healthy state of Thurles Credit Union, with nearly €80 million in savings and €36 million out in loans, provides solid proof of the quality of service provided over the years. Mr. Johnstone underlined the fact that credit unions were needed now more than ever and he was confident that Thurles was well positioned to continue assisting its members in the difficult times many of them now face.
Guest of honour, Thurles-born Mark Fielding, Chief Executive Officer of Irish Small and Medium Enterprises, gave an outstanding keynote address, the theme of which was “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. Saying that the founders of Thurles Credit Union had a vision, Mr. Fielding painted a very imaginative picture of how Thurles people of fifty years might react to the Ireland of today and spoke of the major contribution to significant developments in the social and economic fabric of Ireland by people from the town, people with the same determination, commitment and far-sightedness as those credit union pioneers. He invited those present to take a journey back in time. “Could you imagine Aer Lingus being dwarfed by a railwayman’s son from Thurles”, he asked, “or could anyone imagine, in those far-off days, a young student from the town becoming a female Cabinet minister?” He also paid tribute to the many fine people who chose to remain and who form the backbone of the community and business life in the town. “So often we look at the headline grabbers and tend to forget the real people, the life and soul of this great country, who are entitled to a better life and who will have a better life, because you will work to achieve it,” he stated. Mr. Fielding said that what inspires him on a daily basis is that, despite all of our setbacks, “that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the Irish people, lives on”.
Amanda Ryan, vice-president of Thurles Credit Union, introduced the recipients of the 2011 People of the Year Awards to the audience. Bart Howard, Two-Mile-Borris, was honoured for his total commitment to his community through a wide range of voluntary organisations, including fund-raising with the Vintage Club, Victim Support, a Community Employment Scheme and Positive Ageing. Pierce Murphy, Cabra, who had spent his working life in the education of young people, was honoured for a lifetime’s dedicated service to the Order of Malta, the Musical Society and the sick and elderly on Lourdes pilgrimages. Pierce was unable to be present for the occasion and was represented by his Order of Malta colleague, Ray Deery. Marie Carey, Bohernanave, was the recipient of the first-ever “Good Neighbour Award” for her unstinting assistance to a terminally-ill neighbour over a long period. Sr. Clement, matron of the Stannix Homes, was recognised for the manner in which she has immersed herself in serving the residents of the Homes away and above the call of duty. The pristine condition of the buildings and environs is a remarkable tribute to her dedication.
Although only 16 years old, Tommy Barrett from Moyne Road was acknowledged for his well-developed sense of civic and neighbourhood pride when being presented with the Youth Award.
There was a very pleasant surprise for one of the corner-stones of credit union in Thurles when Nancy Tynan, current treasurer of the company, was made a presentation by League President, Jimmy Johnstone, as an acknowledgement of 40 years dedicated service in every position available. Her contribution to credit union affairs in the region was also marked with a presentation from Dick Conroy, Roscrea Credit Union, on behalf of Chapter 14, the representative body for credit unions in the region.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Darcy complimented the event organising committee, in particular Michael Harty, Marketing Officer, for the excellent preparations for the evening, and the Anner Hotel staff for a fine meal and top-class service.