The late John Mullen
It is not given to many people to leave us with a monument as a symbol of their life. A monument, not just of stone and mortar as a mute reminder of what they once were, but a living, breathing structure with an ethos, a spirit and a purpose to serve those who work there and the members who enter and exit its precincts on a regular basis.
John Mullen left such a testament to mark his immeasurable contribution to the town and community where he lived and worked, a contribution now enshrined in Thurles Credit Union.
John had already built a significant career in the Irish Army where he was a highly regarded soldier before receiving fitting recognition of his qualities when posted as officer in charge of the 16th H.M Battery in Thurles.
During his off-duty time, John found an outlet for his enquiring mind and excellent administrative skills by joining the Board of Thurles Credit Union as a volunteer in 1977. It was a challenging time for the fledgling financial cooperative but John embraced the challenge with his hallmark enthusiasm for change, along with other like-minded volunteers.
His arrival coincided with the purchase of the Milk Bar, the site of the present headquarters of the credit union, and from that point forward John was central to the significant growth and development of the business.
He had an early opportunity to utilise his undoubted innovative skills when the decision was made to computerise the accounting system during his term as a director. In fact, expertise in information technology, and its place in modern business, became his outstanding skill and the current high-quality system in operation is due almost entirely to his remarkable strategic vision and his willingness to pilot new software programmes he felt would benefit Thurles.
Following the much-lamented death of Tom O’Reilly, the first full-time administrator, John was appointed to the position in December 1984 and later ratified as the first C.E.O. This decision was to have a profound beneficial effect on the welfare and development of Thurles Credit Union.
Moving from the voluntary sector of the business to the professional, John utilised his innate intelligence to develop a comprehensive knowledge of financial accounting, along with the attendant management of risk and the maintenance of relationships with financial and regulatory bodies.
John also recognised the importance of developing a relationship with the members who visited on a daily basis. To say he succeeded in so doing would be a major understatement. In time, he came to know practically every member on sight and always had time to meet and talk to them.
His advice was given first and foremost with the good of the individual or the family in mind. John was occasionally referred to as the “man from Del Monte because he always said yes” when the case for a loan was put to him. It was also said during the difficult 80’s that “there would be no Christmas in Thurles only for John Mullen”.
That was certainly true in many cases but he guarded the interests of the Credit Union by developing critical lending and credit control policies. John’s kindliness, his great sense of humour and his faith in the members were invariably repaid in kind as they, in turn, respected his approach and were loyal to him.
John served two families in his mature years. The credit union family was very dear to him and his passing is more than the loss of a colleague and a mentor, not just in Thurles but in Tipperary and, latterly, on the national stage. It is also the loss of one of the architects of a modern business organisation firmly based in, and for, the community, which will always endeavour to match and uphold the standards John set.
But the greatest loss by far is to his family, and we extend the deepest sympathies of everyone involved in Thurles Credit Union to his daughter Deirdre, son Peter, daughter-in-law Jessica, his grandchildren Georgia, Lauren and Sorcha, and his sister Ann, on the passing of this giant, an honest and upright man, and we assure them of the gratitude we feel for how much John gave of himself to us.