Banks may have become ‘bad news’ in Ireland in recent years but there is a side of Irish banking that was long lost before the current recession and that is the ‘bank house’ and the families who used to live in them.
I belonged to one such family as my father joined the Bank of Ireland on May 15, 1928 and we lived in a host of different towns until he retired in 1981. The tall bank buildings that one sees on Main Streets in cities and towns, the length and breadth of Ireland, were once ‘home’ to families like ours and the upstairs rooms that are now offices were once sitting-rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms and the car parks of today were the gardens where so many kids like me played and had precious flower and vegetable plots.
On this day in 1968, we were packing up all our belongings in the bank house in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan where we had lived for four years. I remember well saying a tearful ‘goodbye’ to all the rooms and then skating up and down Main Street one last time to bid farewell to the neighbours.
The Bank House in Drogheda was waiting!