‘We’re committed to keeping a Bank of Ireland branch open in Castleisland so that when you need to discuss your finances you can do it face to face. From 16 August we will no longer offer cash services at the counter.
We’ll still offer financial advice and self service banking every weekday.’
That’s the first paragraph of an explanatory leaflet now available at the Bank of Ireland branch here in Castleisland.
Though the branch locally has done its best to assure people that it will be here beside them into the unknown future, the changes it has wrought are having a negative impact on the street.
A helpful bank official assisted an elderly customer with a transaction in the bank yesterday and when it was done she said to him: “Now you know what to do the next time.” “I do, I’ll look for you,” he said – with genuine innocence.
Compliment to Staff
It was a compliment to the staff member but a reminder of the hopelessness of many in that man’s age group when it comes to tackling a technological monster which has swallowed up the routine of a once simple, staff assisted transaction.
The reaction on the street is one of ‘this is exactly what Castleisland doesn’t need right now’ and ‘what kind of impact will it have on the people coming in from the ring of local villages.’
The people from these areas have been the mainstay of the commercial life of the town almost since its establishment. Certainly, they have been flocking here since Richard Griffith went on his bridge and road building crusade through here in the 1880s.
Leaves in the Wind
While the Bank of Ireland has labeled the changes as ‘A new role for our branches’ it has left many of its older customers like leaves in the wind.
“Today only 3% of our customers’ total transactions are done over the counter while we have eight million interactions on our mobile app each month,” according to the leaflet.
How the changes will affect its customer base will vary greatly. Those with tech savvy won’t have a problem with day-to-day transactions.
However, the bank advises that with coin, cash exchanges or foreign exchange, customers will have to go to a neighbouring branch like: Listowel, Tralee, Killarney or Newcastle West.
So, the genial Clare man, Paddy Garvey will go down in local history as the last in a long line of National Bank / Bank of Ireland managers – as we knew them and the role they played.
Paddy retired at the end of May after putting in an impressive stint as manager here since 2011. In the course of his stay he oversaw two highly successful ‘Enterprise Town Expos’ at the local community centre.
Up the street, at the AIB office a staff member was adamant that the office and a full range of services there would remain as they are.
“Are you sure,” I asked. “One hundred and ten percent,” came the reply.
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