Current/Recent Projects

Current/Recent Projects

"Recent cases of co-operative start-ups in Ireland".
Are co-operatives still being set-up in Ireland? And, if so, for what? These questions have been explored by Aisling Moroney, Bridget Carroll and Olive McCarthy in a recent project featuring case studies of Irish co-operative start-ups.

Recent cases of co-operative start-ups in Ireland


Community-led Housing: Making It Happen - Seminar proceedings

On 7 April 2017 the Society for Co-operative Studies in Ireland and Co-operative Housing Ireland held a seminar on community-led housing in the Wood Quay venue in Dublin. The full-day seminar explored the range of community-led housing options including co-operative housing, co-housing, and community land trusts with a strong focus on the practical aspects of moving from ambitions to delivery. The seminar brought together current community-led housing groups working in Ireland with key local stakeholders and finance providers alongside international speakers with practical delivery experience. The seminar proceedings can be found here

Community Led HousingCommunity Led Housing


Research study on client experiences of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service
The Centre for Co-operative Studies was commissioned in late 2013 to conduct a study of the experiences of MABS clients of the money advice service provided to them by MABS. Confidential telephone interviews were conducted with approximately 80 MABS clients to ascertain the extent to which the service had helped them to overcome financial difficulties and to improve their financial capability. The full report, which was launched in March 2014, can be viewed here. MABS Report
Pictures were taken at the launch in the Lord Mayor's Office, and include the study authors, Dr. Olive McCarthy and Noreen Byrne and the board of MABS in Cork. 

The Journal of Co-operative Studies, including archive, is now freely available on the following link:

Legislative and Regulatory Change

Legislative and Regulatory Change


Conference on Financial Exclusion and Consumer Debt Research: The Centre for Co-operative Studies has recently been awarded funding by Combat Poverty Agency, to host a conference on Financial exclusion and consumer debt research. The conference will bring key researchers in these areas together to disseminate their findings collectively and to act as a forum within which issues in financial exclusion and over-indebtedness in Ireland can be explored and debated by researchers policy-makers, regulators, financial service providers (especially credit unions), social partners, organisations working to combat financial exclusion, and politicians. The event is intended to help to continue to raise awareness of the issues surrounding financial exclusion and over-indebtedness in Ireland and to identify key areas for action and for further research. It is proposed to hold the event in Aula Maxima, University College Cork during September, 2007

Book Series: The Centre was commissioned to write a series of six books by Oak Tree Press, The first of the series has been published and is entitled ‘Helping Ourselves: Success Stories in Co-operative Business and Social Enterprise’.  To  find out more about the book click here

Department of Agriculture and Food: Research Stimulus Fund: (M. Ward, O.McCarthy, R. Briscoe, M. O'Shaughnessy): Funding was awarded for a project examining Effective Structures for Farmers' Markets. This is a three-year project from October 2006 to September 2009. Ms Aisling Moroney has been appointed to undertake this research as part of her PhD. 

Combat Poverty Agency: Policy Research: (N. Byrne, O. McCarthy, M. Ward): Funding was awarded for a research study entitled 'Evaluation of the Credit Union and MABS Services in terms of their impact on the Financial Capability of Low-Income Groups'. This research will directly build on recent research carried out by Byrne, McCarthy and Ward (2005) which highlighted that while access to financial services is essential, it also vital to ensure that people have the ability to use these financial services. The overall aim of the proposed research is to evaluate the credit union and MABS services in terms of the standard service and targeted pilot initiatives in terms of their effectiveness in building financial capability. The research will commence in early 2007.

President's PhD Scholarship in the Colleges of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences, and the College of Business & Law, 2006: (O. McCarthy): The President's PhD scholarship will fund a student to undertake a PhD on credit union governance from 2006 - 2009. The scholarship will cover the PhD fees of a full-time student for 3 years. Mr Ted O'Sullivan has been appointed under the terms of this scholarship.

EMES: is a research network of established university research centres and individual researchers whose goal is to gradually build up an European corpus of theoretical and empirical knowledge , pluralistic in disciplines and methodology, around “Third Sector” issues. For more information see here

Meeting the Credit Needs of Low Income Groups: Credit Unions-v-Moneylenders: (N. Byrne, O.McCarthy and M. Ward):The research for this study was funded under the Poverty Research Initiative 2004 of the Combat Poverty Agency. The study focused on examining the service of the credit union and the moneylender in terms of credit provision to low-income groups. The research also estimated the extent of moneylending in two communities in Munster. It was found that a significant number of people borrow from moneylenders but that well over half are simultaneously borrowing from mainstream sources, in particular the credit union.Within the literature, borrowing from a moneylender is seen as an indicator of being excluded from other more affordable sources of credit. However, in Ireland borrowing from a moneylender is not a clear indicator of financial exclusion, as a significant proportion of moneylender borrowers are also borrowing from mainstream sources. This analysis also brings out the nature of the borrower and moneylender relationship which is based on tradition, convenience and the development of a close relationship which can create the basis for dependency.We conclude that any policy approach must not only focus on access to financial services but must also equally focus on financial education and regulation. The research is published under the Combat Poverty Agency Working Paper Series as Working Paper 05/05.

Current/Recent Projects

Joint UCC/Teagasc PhD Fellowship Opportunity on the potential of co-operatives:

PhD Fellowship Opportunity

A Governance approach to enhancing farm viability:the potential of co-operatives

A large proportion of small and mid-sized conventional farm enterprises in Ireland is officially categorised as economically unviable. With a decline in farm numbers come associated threats to social and cultural sustainability. This is the predominant concern of the ‘Middle Agriculture’ movement that has gained prominence in the US. Co-operatives, in this context, represent a survival strategy and an effort at acquiring greater producer autonomy in a market where food processors and supermarket multiples have control. Newly emerging co-operatives of family farmers and growers in Ireland are in a position to learn from international experience in the United States and Holland, where there are examples of successful marketing/branding co-operatives; information sharing co-operatives; and bargaining co-operatives, operating within the contexts of commodity food markets and differentiated food markets. What can the development of Irish co-operatives learn from these international experiences?  What are the characteristics of successful co-operatives operating internationally and what are the determining factors in their success? What are the broader market and consumer–driven forces that surround their operation? This four-year PhD project will involve conducting qualitative field research to answer these broad research questions both abroad and in Ireland. The project will incorporate a participatory action research component, working directly with policy representatives, agricultural extension support officers, industry stakeholders, and producers.  The successful candidate will have a background in sociology, political science, cooperative studies, rural/community development, food business and development, agricultural science or a related discipline.

The value of the Walsh Fellowship stipend is €21,000 p.a. for four years (less UCC post-graduate fees). Terms and conditions of the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Scheme are available.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Olive McCarthy, 
Centre for Cooperative Studies & Dept of Food Business and Development, 
University College Cork.


Dr. Áine Macken-Walsh, 
Teagasc Rural Economy and Development Programme (REDP), 
Mellow’s Campus, 
Co. Galway.

To apply, please submit a letter of application, a curriculum vitae and a completed research proposal form to

The closing date for applications is:  Friday 29th April, 2011, 5pm.

Research Proposal From (11kB) 

Centre for Co-operative Studies

O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork, Cork