By Colm Croffy
The town was deeply shocked to learn of the passing of Liam Kelly, founder Member and Former Director of Ballinasloe Credit Union, on Jan 11th this year. Liam enjoyed his eighth decade in the shadow of Our Lady of Lourdes Spire and that of the Cupola of St. Brigid`s Hospital, in his ancestral home where his father also was a nurse in the hospital. His family had a long record of service to St Brigid`s Hospital and its patients. After finishing his Psychiatric Nursing training, he worked (like so many others at the time) for a number of years in Castlerea Hospital.
Upon returning in 1965, he engaged in all manner of community and worker orientated social and cultural activities. He married the love of his life Mary Doyle and they had a family of five boys and one girl - Liam, Oliver, Michael, Declan, Alan and Emer.
Having a rich baritone voice and being a dapper mover, he found himself a regular principal cast member for some of the great Musical Society shows from 1947 until 1973 – alongside Dermot Connolly, The Cullens, Maureen O’Donoghue and Johnny Furey. Johnny Furey was also Best Man at Liam`s wedding. He was a member of the Patrician Society connected with the Church in the mid-1960s when Dermot Connolly delivered one of their fortnightly lectures on the radical new financial and community- owned movement – The Credit Union. A group of men doing some ground renovation in Creagh Church under Fr. Dunne’s supervision a few weeks later decided that they would establish one and Liam became the principal driver. Liam’s association with the Credit Union in Ballinasloe goes back to its inception in 1967 and he held the unique position of being the Credit Union`s very first member. He served as a Board Director from 1967 to 2017.
Ballinasloe owes Liam a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for his lifetime of credit union advocacy and volunteerism which benefited thousands of our members. The growth of Ballinasloe Credit Union would not have been possible without the voice of reason he always brought to every meeting. He was one of the best known and respected figures in the movement, both nationally and internationally. Liam travelled the highway and byways of the country in the late 60s, 70s and 80s, promoting and empowering communities and indeed labour forces to manage their own savings and loan book.
During the early years of the movement he befriended another prominent pioneer of the movement, the Chair of the Derry Credit Union, John Hume. They became life-long friends and assisted with the long term development of the Irish League of Credit Unions, which now has some 260 plus Members. Internationally he visited many parts of the developing world, addressed conferences and provided leadership to many struggling people and places – motivated only by a keen sense of Christian community generosity.
Internationally he visited many parts of the developing world, addressed conferences and provided leadership to many struggling people and places – motivated only by a keen sense of Christian community generosity. Still, for Liam, life revolved around the locale and in particular the joys of seeing his family and his grandchildren all grow up. He was instrumental in making Ballinasloe Credit Union one of only the second in the country that created a Social Investment Fund to create social economy and enterprise in the community. He was very much moved by the respect afforded to him and his wife Mary by the Credit Union Chapter when they formally marked their Golden Anniversary in 2017 and was also very pleased to have been presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for service to the community in the People of the Year Awards in 2017.
All our condolences are offered to his lovely wife Mary, Liam, Oliver, Michael, Declan, Alan and Emer, his relatives, friends, neighbours and many Credit Union Colleagues. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilís
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