It sounds like a plot from a Charles Dickens novel but it's true: one in eight Irish parents are forced to visit moneylenders to pay for their child's big day.

In an eye opening new study by the Irish League of Credit Unions researchers found that one in five Irish families use a credit card to cover the major expenses associated with the day.

Clothes are the biggest expenditure say parents preparing their children for First Communion, while in the case of Confirmation, food and drink is usually the most expensive item.

Irish League of Credit Unions chief executive Kieron Brennan told the Herald: "Given the harsh economic reality facing many Irish families today, there has never been a more important time to focus on providing a financial education to our young people.

"A healthy attitude towards money is crucial to ensure that children don't develop bad habits when it comes to money management.

"Studies have shown that the development of a savings habit at a young age results in that healthy attitude to money staying with the person through to adult life."

One-in-eight parents force to go to loan sharks to afford Holy Communion costs