Blog: Banking in Irish

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Dec 14 14:13:46 UTC 2006

BANKING as gaeilge

I was recently talking to a friend of mine and he was telling me about the
difficulties he faced in trying to get his bank to issue an Irish language
cheque book. When he finally got them to issue the cheque book, the
[vowel] in his name was missing the fada! Anyway, this got me
thinking--which is dangerous in itself. I decided to write to all the
major banks asking them if they had any Irish language policy in place or
what they could offer me in terms of banking as gaeilge. Some of the
replies were PFOs but some were encouraging. I went under my pen name
Martina Mary OConnor and the initial email I sent went as follows:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am not currently banking with your firm but am considering moving from
my own bank as I dont feel they are providing me with the service I

I have looked at your firm and am happy with the financial services you
provide and that they would meet my needs. The only thing I couldnt find
out about was if you have any Irish language policy in place. One of the
main reasons I have decided to leave my own bank was because they could
not or would not accommodate my request for correspondence etc through

So my question to you is, do you have any policy or arrangements in place
for customers who want to do their banking through Irish? I managed to get
my current bank to issue me an Irish language cheque book, but that is as
far as they went.

I would of course be more likely to join a bank which could accommodate my
request in some way.

Thanks for your time
Martina Mary OConnor

The replies were varied and are listed below.

Bank Of Ireland

- Customer Care Unit
Dear Ms OConnor

Thank you for your email to the Bank of Ireland Customer Care Unit.

The majority of the banking processes are done through the English
Some Bank of Ireland ATMs have an Irish Language facility on them.
Cheque book can be issued in the Irish language.

Our branches in the Gaeltacht region do have Irish speakers working in
them. If you would like me to enquire as to which branches would be best
to accomodate your banking requirements please do not hesitate to contact
Yours sincerely

K**** F****
Customer Care Unit

-Bank of Ireland 365 Online
Dear Ms. OConnor,

Thank you for your email.

Bank of Ireland do not currently have an Irish language policy in place.
However, we have passed your comments to our Development Team who will
consider all suggestions received in our future developments.

Customer feedback is greatly appreciated by us in Bank of Ireland.

Thank you for taking the time to email us with your comments and

Yours sincerely

E**** O*****
Customer Support
Bank of Ireland 365 Online
Permanent TSB

Reply 1>
Dear Ms OConnor,

Thank you for your email.

In relation to your query Permanent tsb do provide a card and a
chequebook in Irish for those whom request it.

In relation to ongoing correspondence this will be conducted in English.
Unfortunately we do not provide this service.

If you have any queries please contact me on 1890500195.

Kind Regards

Switcher Team

Reply 2>
Dear Ms OConnor,

Thank you for your email.

At present, Permanent tsb offers its banking information solely through
English. We are currently reviewing our language policy with a view to
offering our services in several languages, Irish included. This review
will be completed in 2007 and any results will be communicated to our

Thank you very much for your email and please let me know if I can be of
further assistance.

Best regards,

S*** M***
National Irish Bank

Dear Ms OConnor,

I have checked this out internally - unfortunately we do not provide our
banking services in the Irish language.

I am sorry that we can not accommodate your request.

Kind regards,
Ulster Bank

Hi Martina Mary,

O*** B***, our PR Manager forwarded your email to myself. I look after the
marketing developments for our youth segments as well as migrant workers
in Ireland.

While I cant promise anything in this area, Irish is something I am
currently looking at and have met with Conradh na Gaeilge in this regard.
I would be delighted to get your thoughts on how we might develop Irish
language initiatives. Correspondence in Irish however is very difficult as
our letters are typically generated by a system which doesnt include an
Irish language option.

We are considering making the current account brochure and application
form available in Irish (bilingual) and are also considering some other

However, it is very early days and we cant, at this stage, commit to
anything. I would, as mentioned above, welcome your thoughts around
further Irish language initiatives.

Kind Regards,

F*** ***
Ulster Bank
Georges Quay
Dublin 2
Halifax / Bank Of Scotland

Dear Ms OConnor,

Thank you very much for your enquiry regarding the banks Irish Language
Policy and also taking the time to review and consider Halifax for your
financial services.

I will be discussing your requirements with the appropriate personnel and
respond to your enquiry as speedily as possible.

If in the meantime you have any further questions, please do contact me.

Thanks & Best Regards

M*** M***
Halifax Customer Relations
Customer Service Centre
PO Box 40
Co Louth
So it looks like Ulster Bank is the most proactive bank in this area. I
have to say that I was very much encouraged by their response and hope the
follow through lives up to the promise.

BOI and TSB are currently reviewing their language policies, set for
completion sometime in 2007.

BOI offer cheque books in Irish and some of their ATM have an Irish
language facility.

TSB offer both their bank cards and their cheque books in Irish.

National Irish Bank offers us nothing but an apology!

Halifax / Bank Of Scotland have yet to get back to me.

Some other banks are slow in getting back to me, ill post any late replies
as they come in.


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