Trip to the Credit Union to withdraw money helps Limerick girl pay for college

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

A TRIP to the Credit Union by a student to take out money for college ended up with her winning a €3,000 bursary for her studies.

A TRIP to the Credit Union by a student to take out money for college ended up with her winning a €3,000 bursary for her studies.

Jean Cleary, 18, from Knockainey, was presented with the inaugural Michael Gill memorial bursary award by St Ailbe’s Credit Union.

Every year the Caherconlish branch give a monetary donation to a student, who has made a difference in their community.

The late Michael Gill, who passed away earlier this year, was auditor of St Ailbe’s since its inception 32 years ago. In honour of Michael’s dedication and commitment, Esther Ryan, manager, came up with the idea of calling the bursary after him. It was met with immediate approval by the board and John O’Connor, chairperson, said Jean is a very deserving winner.

“Twenty applicants were interviewed and the adjudicators had a huge task in reaching a decision. I would like to call them all winners but only one can take the prize. Jean is a great community person. She has great leadership skills and we wish her well in her endeavours,” said Mr O’Connor.

Jean, who is studying speech and therapy in UCC, will receive €1,000 per year for three years.

Putting her name down for the bursary happened by chance.

“At the end of August, dad and I went into the Credit Union to take money out of my account to pay for accommodation and college fees. I saw a leaflet, my dad was looking at it as well so they handed us out an application from. I said I’m definitely gong to apply for this because there is two of us going to college this year and it would be a massive help,” said Jean, who was completely shocked when she won.

“I had to write about myself and that is the one thing I cannot do. I was very nervous in the interview but they were very welcoming,” she added.

The winner is chosen on their involvement in their local community. And Jean certainly ticks those boxes.

Once a month she attends a tea dance for the elderly.

“I butter the scones, set tables and do the wash up. It is strenuous for the elderly standing around doing the washing up so I do it. It is only five hours out of my day and I love doing it - they are so nice,” said Jean, whose mum and dad are Deirdre and Martin, and she has two siblings, Brian and Carole. Jean plays with and fundraises for Knockainey ladies football club, is involved with the Tidy Towns, community fair and does litter picks with her sister.

“Whatever I can do to help,” she sums up.

While her friends might have joked to her about a shopping spree the money is only going on her college fees, accommodation and other associated expenses.

“A lot of people can’t afford to go to college. It is going to be a massive encouragement and motivation to get the best results I possibly can. I am so happy that the Credit Union has chosen me. Michael Gill did such good work for the Credit Union and it is such an honour to be picked for the first year of it,” said Jean.

At the launch Maura Gill said her late husband would be very pleased about the initiative, and on behalf of her family thanked St Ailbe’s Credit Union.