The Credit Union in Carlow town, Ireland is based in Credit Union House, Askea, Carlow. It is one of the largest community based credit unions in Ireland. Founded over 50 years ago it now has around 40,000 accounts and shares of over €55 million.
The first urban credit unions were founded in Germany in 1852 but it was not until 1864 that the first rural credit union was founded by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen in Heddesdorf in western Germany. Credit union’s gradually spread to other countries and the first one was established in Ireland in Dublin in December 1953. The credit union movement spread quickly to all parts of the country. Today in Ireland over 2.9 million people are credit union members and have savings approaching €11.9 billion.
Ten years after the establishment the credit union in Dublin a credit union was established in Carlow town with 15 volunteers and a total fund of £15. The original credit union operated out of rooms in the C.Y.M.S (Catholic Young Men’s Society) hall on College Street before moving to the Presentation Schools on Tullow Street. In 1966 a building on Burrin Street was purchased. The Credit Union continued to grow and by the 1980’s the building had been renovated and transformed to meet the growing demand for its services. It changed from a one room operation to a building with a large public office and several other offices.
The building on Burrin Street eventually became unsuitable to meet the needs of the rapidly growing credit union community. In 2004 Carlow credit union moved to new purpose built offices on the Staplestown Road which were opened by John Hume. John Hume, one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, was a founding member of the Credit Union in his native city of Derry when he was working there as a teacher. At the age of 27, in 1964, he became the youngest ever President of the Irish League of Credit Unions.
Credit Union House, Askea, Carlow, the headquarters of Carlow District Credit Union, was officially opened by John Hume in the year 2004 On This Day.