Local Businessmen give Generous Support to Society’s Appeal

H.C. Lyons
D.M. Hanley

Celebrating 100 Years of Sligo Chamber

On this Week in 1944

Local Businessmen give Generous Support to Society’s Appeal

H.C. Lyons

At a  Sligo Chamber Meeting in February 1944, Mr. D.M. Hanley, President, in the Chair, a letter was read to the meeting by Mr. H.C. Lyons. A founding member of Sligo Chamber, Mr. Lyons had been unwell for some time and had been communicating to Chamber meetings by letter. He wrote that the Chamber was already aware that the Irish Red Cross Society had launched an appeal to raise £500,000 for funds to help countries that were devasted by the war, which by that time had been ongoing for over four years. In connection with the appeal, Mr. C.A. Flattery, D.J., Secretary of the Red Cross County Committee was in attendance at the meeting to get the support of the Chamber to raise funds.

Red Cross Headquarters

Mr. Lyons went on to write that he thought it was the duty of all employers to do something to help this good cause as there was much for which the people of Eire had to be thankful. They grumbled at times because things were scarce but at least they got enough food. He suggested that the Associated Chambers of Commerce (now Chambers Ireland) be asked to take the matter up with the Chambers in all Provinces. He also suggested that the Irish Red Cross Society should get a subscription from the Sligo Chamber of Commerce, which he understood, had investments which could be sold and used for the purpose. “Those people who were engaged in commerce fully realised that if Eire, which was a neutral State, did not do something to relieve the dire need for food in other countries, it would look very bad in the eyes of the world and would be bad for post-war commerce. As a gesture of gratitude for their neutrality, which they all considered a great blessing, they should do their best to help the Red Cross appeal.”

Mr. Flattery thanked the President and members of the Chamber for their courtesy in allowing him to address the meeting. He believed the Sligo Chamber of Commerce had made history that night by the attitude they had taken because it was the first Chamber of Commerce in the country that had shown a public interest in the appeal to raise £500,000. The Red Cross Society thought that an All-Ireland appeal should be made to raise a half-a-million-pound fund, with two objectives, to bring relief to war-stricken nations and to fight tuberculosis at home on a nation-wide scale. In normal times a nation might hope to raise a loan of that amount with shilling subscriptions if everybody gave according to their means. There was a big section of the people in this country at the present time who would not be able to subscribe to the appeal and for that reason those who could were expected to give something more than they might be expected to give in normal times, and he was sure they would face up to that. Continuing, Mr. Flattery

Irish £100 Banknote

said he thought a fair contribution would be £500 from Sligo Town and £500 from the County, making a total of £1,000. That was a target at which they should aim. Larger towns, like Cork, Limerick and Waterford, would be able to contribute much more. As to what the Chamber would contribute would be a matter for themselves, and their conscience would tell them how much they could afford to pay into such a splendid fund, which would be spent for two very splendid purposes, namely, to feed the sick and hungry, no matter where they were and whose plight had been the result of the war, and also to right what had become a national curse — tuberculosis at home.

Sligo Champion 1944

It was the intention of the Red Cross Society headquarters to send a fully equipped modern ambulance unit to the Continent as soon as conditions permitted that being done. Arrangements were made to recruit the doctors and personnel.   To send such a unit to the Continent and maintain it there for a reasonable length of time would cost £100,000. “If this nation, which had been spared the horrors of war, failed in its duty to suffering humanity then the name of Eire would go down in history as a nation that pretended to be Christian, but in its acts and conduct showed itself to be anything but Christian. From a national point of view, it did not need any great advocacy to plead the case of Eire in its moral obligations to the rest of Europe.” He thought the whole spirit of the Chamber towards the appeal was shown by the attitude of one of its prominent members, Mr. H.C. Lyons, who, without ever being approached at all in the matter, showed his enthusiasm for the appeal by offering to the Red Cross County Committee a beautiful three-piece suite of furniture, valued at £50 and which would be raffled.  And, speaking of Mr. Lyons, he personally was glad to see he had recovered considerably in health from his recent illness.  A subsequent Notice in the Sligo Champion would show that the raffle raised £121.5s.1d for the suite of furniture so generously donated by Mr. Lyons.

The Secretary, J.A. McLoghry, said the Chamber was not in a very strong position financially. They held some Savings Certificates which were worth about £70. They could sell some of the certificates and if they made a start, more than likely, other Chambers of Commerce would do likewise. He was sorry to say that they could not give a terrible lot to the appeal.

Red Cross Relief Parcel

Mr. Ronald Perry, son of the late H. Campbell Perry, First President of Sligo Chamber, said that few countries in Europe had suffered so much in the present war as the country which he had the honour of representing here, namely the Netherlands. He thought it was his duty to ask the Red Cross Society in their charity to help his Majesty’s subjects in the Netherlands and in the Dominions. He was sure that while doing all they could to help the Red Cross, they in turn would make some contribution to help those people.

The Mayor, Councillor J. Gallagher, a member of the Chamber, suggested that every member of the Chamber should make a contribution of £1 or £5 each in addition to whatever sum would be made out of the Chamber’s funds.

Bellow Brothers, Gratten Street

This was seconded by Mr. C. Bellew and passed unanimously.

Ald. Tolan said he would like to thank the members, and also Mr. Lyons for his very generous gesture in presenting the suite of furniture. The action of the Chamber was giving a good lead to the citizens of the town.    

Mr. Flattery asked that a resolution be put on the books that the Chamber were in favour of the appeal and that they would give it their whole-hearted support.

A resolution to this effect was also passed.     

The President proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Flattery for attending the meeting. They all knew the deep interest which he took in the Red Cross in Sligo. He had successfully organised branches in all parts of the county. Mr. W. Bellew seconded the vote of thanks and said that everybody in Sligo knew how much interest Mr. Flattery took in the Red Cross and in everything that was for the welfare of the town. Mr. L. Caswell said he was present at the inaugural meeting of the Red Cross in Sligo, and on that occasion, he was struck by the very capable and efficient manner in which Mr. Flattery conducted the business of that meeting. The Red Cross organisation in Sligo was very fortunate in having such a man as Mr. Flattery at the head of affairs, he deserved all the support which the Chamber could give. Mr. J. Mulreany suggested that two delegates be appointed to represent the Chamber and help the County Committee of the Red Cross in their drive to raise funds.

Irish Coins of the day

Mr. Flattery in his closing comments to the meeting, said he was very grateful to the Chamber for the reception which they had given him as a representative of the Red Cross. When he first took up Red Cross work he never imagined that the war would go on for over four years. While this country had come safely through the war up to the present, the rest of the world was in misery, and for that reason he was determined to put every effort into the Red Cross in its endeavour to raise the half-a-million pounds. He was delighted that the gentlemen present, who represented the business life of Sligo in all its aspects had given such a hearty céad míle fáilteto the appeal.

It was on the night of the 29th of February that the local businessmen of Sligo gave their generous support and made history by being the first Chamber of Commerce in the country to support the Red Cross Society Appeal, on this week in 1944.

Researched and written by Conor McCarthy

Supported by the Sligo Chamber Centenary Committee:

  • Catherine Maguire – Admin & Photographic Research
  • Geraldine Courtenay – Creative Direction
  • Aidan Doyle – Review & Publication

The next Article in the series commemorating The Centenary of Sligo Chamber and entitled

The First President, Sligo Chamber of Commerce” will be released on the 13th of March 2023.

                                                                                                                       #Sligo Chamber Centenary