VIDEO: ‘With Christmas coming, everybody is going to leave the town’
Last month, Kingscourt lost its last remaining bank, when Bank of Ireland closed its doors for the last time. It was a huge blow to the community and the impact is very much being felt in the busy town which now has very limited access to cash. Locals are relying on 'cashback' or ATM machines in local shops for cash, which are struggling to meet the demand.
Businesses who used the ATM machine for out-of-hours lodgements now have to travel to Bailieboro or Carrickmacross. The local post office is offering banking services during its opening hours and is doing its best to fill the void but it is a small post office and there are often people queuing on the street to access its services.
It is now more than a decade since the then National Irish Bank closed its doors and on 8th October Bank of Ireland closed its doors for the last time leaving the busy mart town without a bank.
Local businessman Kevin Victory, proprietor of Centra said: “It has a had a very big impact on the town. Even for customers not being able to access cash, and this leads to frustration. The ATMs that are in the town wouldn't have the same facility as the bank.” He said they are giving customers cashback a lot more since the bank closed.
“The biggest effect is people not coming into the town as much, as they are going into bigger towns where they can access the larger amounts of cashback and get money from the banks. We had two banks for years in the town and now we are left with none. It has had a big impact and going forward it will make the town less attractive for people to come and shop in the town.”
Eugene O'Gorman of O'Gorman's SuperValu said it was a big loss to the local community.
“It is an awful pity that a town as prosperous as Kingscourt wouldn't have the vote of confidence of a bank with them. I am five years in Kingscourt and all I can see is a great future and I cannot see why the banks can't see that,” he said.
They have a cash machine in their store and he said lots of people are coming to the store just to use the machine but pointed out that the service they can offer is limited.
“It is only a service we are providing, it is not part of our business. There are limitations in terms of security and safety. It is limited and closes at night. We are a grocery store, not a bank, and we trying to fill a small part of the gap as best we can.”
Carmel Daly branch manager of the local post office said there are a lot more people coming in looking for cash. She said it has put extra work on them but they are coping well.
Paul Kelly, manager at Daybreak, on the Navan Road said a lot of people are coming into the shop just to use the cash machine and it is hard to keep it filled and much of the time it is out of service.
“We stopped doing cashback because we can't give change, and cashback, and have something to put into the ATM.” He said some people will come in and do three transactions in a row and then nobody else has a chance to get money.
“The problem is there is only a circulation of money in the town now. There is no money coming into the town. Where the bank would have had two ATMs- one on the outside, one on the inside- that kept a flow of money coming into the town. Right now we are just circulating the money we have every week. “
Megan Morris doesn't drive and said it is very awkward to get to Carrickmacross or Bailieboro to get to a bank. “ I can only imagine what businesses are like with having to lodge money in. I know the post office is doing their best but when they are closed there is nowhere else to do it. “
She added that there are cash machines in Supervalu and in shops but they don't always have cash in them and they are at opposite ends of the town.
Edel Reilly of Pat's Shop said it is hard to have the cash flow to give cashback especially when everyone is tapping their debit cards.
“It's definitely awkward as regards trying to get cash. There is only so much cashback you can give and nobody is really using cash. Everybody is tapping.
“You hate saying no to people but if you don't have it, what can you do. “ She said it seems they are trying to make everything cashless but “you always need a bit of cash, especially for older people”.
Elizabeth Martin who owns a shoe shop said it is terrible that in a town with so much employment and industry, there is no bank. “Going back years, we had two banks. It is backwards we are going. It is an awful loss to the town.”
Catherine O'Connor said it is sending people out of the town. “There was a truck show here two weeks ago and a lot of people came into the town and there was no cash anywhere. The shops ran out of cash giving cashback. It is the same on a normal weekend.”
Rosie Cooney said: “With Christmas coming, everybody is going to leave the town. I went to get my hair done yesterday and the card machine wouldn't work. I couldn't pay as I had no cash on me. It was a couple of days before I could pay for my hair.”
Rosaleen McCabe: “It is very awkward especially for older people that don't use computers. It's ok for young people, they can do online banking but for older people, it is very difficult for them. They have to get somebody to take them someplace to another bank.”
“I think it is a disgrace with all the big companies that are in Kingscourt, I can't understand why would have to close it.”
Bernie Hickey said Kingscourt is a big industrial town and they need a bank.
“I think it is a disgrace that it was taken from the town. I myself lodge money most weeks and I have to trek out of the town now. I have to go to Baileboro or Carrick or Navan.
“It's a big industrial town. It was needed. It shouldn't be taken away completely, It should be brought back. We didn't protest enough about it going,” she said.
Christine Monaghan said she has a small cattery business just outside the town and used to lodge her cash payments at the ATM. She now has to use the local post office and said she had to queue 20 minutes one day recently to do her lodgement.
“The ATM in Kingscourt is an essential part of our weekly banking and I strongly argue for it be put back. “It is a huge loss. For a town the size of Kingscourt, it is a joke.”