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200 years of banking history unveiled at launch of Archive, Website and Book

The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has today launched the Permanent TSB Archive along with a website and book detailing the Bank’s development from its inception over 200 years ago (c.1816 in Waterford).

Permanent  TSB is one of Ireland’s oldest financial institutions and the archive and book chart the evolution of the bank from its origins in the trustee savings bank and building society movements in the 19th century.

The TSB side of Permanent TSB traces its roots back to five independent savings banks which were set up in Waterford, Cork, Dublin, Monaghan and Limerick in a busy 4 year period between 1816 and 1820. 

These “trustee savings banks” were set up to serve local communities; providing a place where ordinary people could save and borrow small amounts of money.  

The (Irish) Permanent side of today’s bank goes back to 1884 with the foundation of the Irish Temperance Permanent Benefit Building Society, which held its first meetings inside the club rooms of the Dublin Coffee Palace.

The book, Our Banking Heritage: The Origins of Permanent TSB and the accompanying website explore the Bank’s early history and development and showcase the many artefacts that are now housed within the Permanent TSB Archive. These artefacts include minute books, ledgers, passbooks, corporate records, and photographs dating from the early 1800s to the present day.

As well as providing an insight into Permanent TSB’s deep roots in Irish communities, these records also have a wider cultural and historical significance as records of Irish people and Irish society.

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe:

‘I am delighted to officially launch the Permanent TSB Archive, which will house over 200 years of business and banking records. The archive, along with bank’s new heritage website and publication, will enhance understanding of the origins of one of Ireland’s oldest financial institutions. If the Decade of Centenaries has taught us anything it is the value of our historical records and primary sources and it is great to see Permanent TSB investing in its archival heritage.’

Eamonn Crowley, Permanent TSB CEO:

Permanent TSB is immensely proud of its deep roots in communities around the country and of the important role its forbearers played in the emerging Irish banking sector. We are delighted to share our origin story with the creation of a corporate archive to house our unique historical collections. The history of Permanent TSB is intertwined with Irish history and Irish society. The communities that we served became generations of loyal customers and our branches and offices became part the fabric of towns and cities across Ireland.

The creation of this archive has also been an exercise in humility. 200 years ago our forbearers helped ordinary people to manage their finances and to improve their local communities.  Financial services have become a lot more complex in the last two centuries and we have made mistakes along the way but the purpose of our business remains the same: working hard every day to build trust with our customers. We are a community serving the community.’

Fionnuala Parfrey, Permanent TSB Archivist and Heritage Officer:

‘The establishment of this archive is a significant milestone in terms of Irish banks recognising the value of their heritage both for themselves and for the wider community. The launch of the Permanent TSB Archive will establish a position for the bank in the business archives community alongside Irish companies such as Guinness, Irish Distillers and ESB, and UK banks such as HSBC, NatWest and Lloyds. We anticipate that the archive will be of interest to a wide range of researchers and users, and will be a valuable asset to the bank, enabling us to share and promote our rich heritage. We look forward to undertaking further work to catalogue and preserve this valuable collection of business records.’

Notes to editor

  • In the 19th Century, customers could save no more than £50 a year in the savings banks and the banks were obliged to place their funds on account with the UK Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt – effectively providing customers with a Government guarantee for their savings.
  • In the 19th Century, the Irish Temperance Permanent Benefit Building Society – the forerunner of Irish Permanent – operated a “ballot-and-sale” method for helping people to get a home. When there was enough money in the central fund, a member’s name would be picked by lottery and they would be given the option of receiving an interest free loan. In the event they were not yet in a position to buy a house, the loan would be sold back to the society and then allocated by resale to the highest bidding member.  The resale of advances is how the society made money (instead of via interest).
  • The Savings Banks were run voluntarily, often by prominent local merchants and businessmen. The sons of famed brewer Arthur Guinness and members of the Bewley and Jameson families were among the founders of the Dublin Savings Bank.
  • As a result of the famine, total deposits in Irish trustee savings banks dropped from £2.9 million in 1843 o £1.2 million in 1849 and 24 savings banks closed their operations between 1844 and 1852. The remaining five institutions evolved, merged and developed until they became TSB Bank which later merged with Irish Permanent to form Permanent TSB.
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