Ireland, despite its perception as an impoverished area of Europe in the nineteenth century, had a long tradition of savings banks and thrift. This paper is a study of structural, institutional and functional developments in Irish savings banks, Trustee Savings Banks (TSBs) and the Post Office Savings Bank (POSB), during the nineteenth century. The paper focuses on the changing structure of the Irish savings bank sector where privately run incumbents, TSBs, were superseded by a publicly administered entrant, the POSB. The paper argues that Irish TSBs were affected by moral hazard which resulted in fraud in the 1840s, in turn this led to a loss in confidence. It argues that this loss of confidence in Irish TSBs precipitated a shift to the POSB. Savings held in the POSB consistently grew from its introduction in 1862, even in the recessionary period known as the Land War (1877-1882). The paper argues that the concept and implementation of thrift was not criticised by its propagators and practitioners. It finds that savings banks were loss making, suggesting that Irish savings banks were subsidised, and that the savings banks were one-dimensional institutions that did not engage in private sector lending, arguably crowding out private investment.
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MC LAUGHLIN (Eoin)(Dr.). Savings Banks in Ireland, 1817-1914. Research paper presented at the Academic Award 2012. (3rd Prize Winning Manuscript)