Paul and Nick attended a lecture at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester on 19 Feb, where Dr Patrick Doyle, Hallsworth Research Fellow at Manchester University, told the story of the emergence of co-operation in Ireland in the nineteenth century and its evolution into the twentieth. Patrick’s new book, Civilising Rural Ireland: the co-operative movement, development and the nation state 1889-1939, gives a comprehensive account of the co-operative movement’s introduction to Irish society, as well as an analysis of the importance of these radical economic ideas upon political Irish nationalism. It also covers the role played by the Manchester-based Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS, now known as Co-operative Group) on this journey.

Patrick’s talk referenced the development of credit co-ops that helped support the agricultural producer co-op businesses (in particular, the creameries). Patrick explained that these credit co-ops, based on the Raffeisen model, were early ancestors of the current credit union movement, but they collapsed in the 1920s due to the Depression. He also noted that the modern credit union movement is the most substantial co-operative sector in the contemporary Irish economy.