Limerick initiative gets Begin Together backing

In response to Covid-19, Bank of Ireland launched the Begin Together Fund for Colleagues.

A grassroots local initiative to support local retailers impacted by the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown has become one of the first community initiatives to win support under the Begin Together Fund for Colleagues, launched by Bank of Ireland.

Lean on Me is an initiative that was sparked by the realisation among a loyal cohort of professionals that local businesses faced an untimely demise and were being overtaken by savvier online players, is beginning to become a national movement.

So far more than €90,000 has been raised to help local businesses cover their bills and the movement has spilled over from Limerick into neighbouring Clare and up to Galway with two more counties expected to join the platform in the coming weeks.

The Begin Together Fund for Colleagues was among a raft of measures established by the bank as part of its €1.4bn package of measures to support Ireland’s economic recovery.

Sparking a movement


Lean on Me was proposed as a beneficiary of the Begin Together Fund for Colleagues by some Bank of Ireland staff in Limerick. “We are delighted that our nomination for the Lean On Me local business community initiative was selected,” said Pat Carroll, Community Enterprise manager, Bank of Ireland Munster.

“This innovative online platform, developed by a small group of community volunteers, enabled consumers to buy vouchers during lockdown for SMEs throughout Limerick, Clare and Galway, thereby providing vital cash-flow at a time that has been crucial to their businesses’ future,” Carroll said.

The volunteers who sparked the movement include John Moran, chair of #LiveableLimerick and CEO of RHH International, Joe Brooks, Limerick local independent business supporter,  Patrick Fitzgerald and Lorraine Blake,head of Sales, Grid Finance as well as Will Ryan, managing director of the Limerick Post and Miriam O’Connor, partner at Sellors Solicitors, Seanie Ryan, MD of ELIVE Web Hosting and Séan Golden, economist.

Speaking with ThinkBusiness in recent weeks, local solicitor Miriam O’Connor explained: “We wanted to provide an online platform for small, independent businesses that didn’t have an online presence. The local barber for example might have a Facebook page but won’t have a website or a facility to sell a voucher. Likewise, there are a lot of small boutique businesses and coffee shops who are impacted and unlike tech firms or professional services firms cannot work remotely.

“When Covid-19 struck many small businesses were forced to close their doors completely. They had no more cash flow. And every day this lockdown endures revenues are lost to them.

“So the idea was that we could allow loyal customers to buy vouchers that they could redeem after the lockdown. In the meantime, this would be used to enable cash flow to go back into the business while it is closed and pay off those mounting bills,” O’Connor said.

At the weekend Bank of Ireland launched its 2020 Begin Together Awards, an initiative that will support towns across the island of Ireland as they reboot and recover from the impact of Covid-19.

With a total prize fund of over €200,000, this year’s Awards were fast-tracked to provide funding to the winning towns and urban villages by the beginning of October and directly assist their Covid-19 recovery.

More details and online application click here 

Pictured at top: Patrick Fitzgerald, John Moran, Miriam O’Connor, Joe Brooks, Will Ryan and Seanie Ryan. Image: Limerick Post

Written by John Kennedy (

Published: 16 June, 2020