Loan Funds were nineteenth century institutions that provided credit to the poor of Ireland. At their peak, in the years immediately prior to the Great Famine, up to 13 individual loan funds operated in the greater Skibbereen area putting £75,356 into circulation in the local economy over a 10 year period.
The Funds collapsed during the Great Famine but in the 1850s an effort to collect monies owing was made and so ‘follow up’ visits were made. These follow ups show what happened to the lendees in the intervening years.
These loan records are a great source of genealogy information, providing names of lendees and their guarantors and tying them to a homeplace or townland. They also provide family history information as they give an insight into how the poorer people suffered during the Great Famine.
The follow up reports are one of the few surviving records that offer information on who died and emigrated during an Gorta Mór.
Some records survive for the Kilmoe & Crookhaven, Schull, Durrus, Creagh, Baltimore, Castletownshend,
Glandore and Ballineen funds.
These records include loan details and also subsequent follow up reports.
Skibbereen Heritage Centre is delighted to provide a searchable database of the five local Loan Funds in West Cork where records survive. These previously unavailable ‘annals of the poor’ offer an insight into the circumstances of the ordinary people of West Cork prior to, and as a result of, the Great Famine.
To search this database, click Search
To learn more about the Loan Funds in the Skibbereen area, please download this article by Terri Kearney of Skibbereen Heritage Centre.