The First Choice Credit Union Story

Our great success story started back in May 1966. Then the Castlebar Credit Union, it was founded as a result of the efforts of 13 dynamic, pioneering and entrepreneurial people namely Tommie Byrne, John Cashin, Paddy 0’ Toole, Joe Keane, Jack Loftus, Larry Mc Hale, Greg Mc Donnell, Frank Durcan, Jimmy Mc Hugh, Denis Ludden, Micheal Carney, Liam Cronin & Pat Ward.

The founders recognised the scarce availability and poor management of money and resolved to identify a system that would allow people to gain more control over their finances. The main reason for setting up a Credit Union was to give the community its own saving and lending co-operative. To give people independence from the banks and money lenders, and also the door to door sales persons with their hidden charges. As the savings group proved to be so successful with membership growing it was decided to look for a more permanent collection point, and as the luck was there Eddie Cannons little office was secured at Market Square and as they say, the rest is history.

In 1999, the new Balla Sub Office was opened and in 2015, a transfer of engagements of Ballyhaunis District Credit Union took place. Continuing to go from strength to strength, Achill Credit Union became part of what is now First Choice Credit Union and indeed, it was that transfer of engagements that led us to change our name from Castlebar Credit Union to become First Choice Credit Union. In 2021, a transfer of engagements of Swinford & District Credit Union took place to bring First Choice Credit Union up to 5 office locations. In most recent times (April 2024), Kiltimagh District Credit Union became part of the First Choice Credit Union family.

First Choice Credit Union is committed to providing quality financial services to the community sphere, dedicated to serving our membership in an efficient and professional manner, to provide value relative to cost while enhancing our members financial health and quality of life, operating in an ethical and financially sound manner through the application of innovation and technology accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To become the leading financial service provider distinguished from competitors by its member-centric focus, co-operative ethos, entrepreneurial spirit and ethical purpose.

First Choice Credit Union will be guided at all times by the Credit Union Operating Principles which are founded in the philosophy of cooperation and its central values of equality, equity and mutual self-help. These principles are open and voluntary membership, democratic control, return on savings & deposits, return of surplus to members, non-discrimination, service to members, on-going education, co-operation amongst co-operatives and social responsibility. We will discharge our responsibilities to our stakeholders with integrity and in a professional and respectful manner.

What is a Credit Union?
A credit union is a group of people who save together and lend to each other at a fair and reasonable rate of interest. Credit unions offer members the chance to have control over their own finances by making their own savings work for them. Regular savings form a common pool of money, which in turn provides many benefits for members.

What are the benefits of a Credit Union?
A credit union is an organisation of people – for people. It exists only to serve its members – not to profit from their needs. Credit unions are non-sectarian and non-political, and continue that Irish tradition of co-operative self help.

In Ireland over 3 million members have recognised the value of credit unions and have savings approaching €11.9 billion. There are over 9,200 active volunteers involved in the movement, and over 3,500 people are employed.

It has been shown throughout history that by working together people can achieve far more through co-operation than by individual effort. The success of the credit union movements worldwide is a clear illustration of this. Credit unions have served their members well in Ireland, and as long as there are active members, they will continue to do so.