Today we celebrate Nora Herlihy, who was born this day in 1910, a founder of the Irish credit union movement, who is remembered as a strong Cork woman who advocated for affirming control over personal finances, and standing up against unethical and manipulative money-lenders throughout the 20th century. Working as a teacher throughout her life, Nora saw first-hand the effects of economic insecurity and injustice. She understood the value that financial education and community could bring to struggling rural and urban areas and became Secretary of the Dublin Central Co-operative Society where she was surrounded by like-minded social and economic thinkers.
Herlihy and her colleagues were largely inspired by the philosophies of the credit union movement in North America. Alongside other members of the co-operative society, Sean Forde and Seamus P. MacEoin, the trio founded the Irish League of Credit Unions in Donore Avenue, Dublin, in 1958. In Nora’s lifetime she saw the movement extended to 1 million members by the time of her death in 1988. Building on those foundations, today Ireland has 3 million members, which from a population of 5 million means one of the world’s highest credit union membership penetration rates. Read more about Nora Herlihy here or in Culloty A.T. (1990), Nora Herlihy: Irish Credit Union Pioneer, Irish League of Credit Unions, Dublin.