Prosperous, County Kildare
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Prosperous (Irish: An Chorrchoill, meaning "the smooth forest") is a small town in north County Kildare, Ireland. It is within the townland of Curryhills, at the junction of the R403 and R408 regional roads, about 40 km (25 mi) from Dublin. Its population of 2,248 makes it the 14th largest town in County Kildare.
The English name of Prosperous was given when the village was founded in the late 18th century by Sir Robert Brooke. The village takes its Irish name from the townland lying to the east, Corrchoill or an Chorrchoill (meaning "the smooth forest"), anglicised variously as Corr[y]hill[s], Curr[i]hill[s] and Curryhills. An alternative meaning is "The wood of the small round hill" 4 and this makes sense topographically as there is a low hill immediately to the east of the village. The village extends into the surrounding townlands of Ballinafagh, Killybegs, Curryhills and Downings (north, south, east and west, respectively).
The town of Prosperous owes its origin to the vision and ideals of Sir Robert Brooke (1744-1811) from County Cavan. The late eighteenth century was a time of attempted industrial development in Ireland and the industry upon which Prosperous was founded in 1780 was cotton manufacturing. The name chosen by Brook for his industrial town could only be the product of a confident dream. A close parallel to the development of Prosperous was Stratford-on-Slaney in County Wicklow, founded by Henry Stratford, Earl of Aldeborough in 1785 as a textile centre. Despite huge investment and, in the case of Prosperous, much building and an initial population of 4,000, both industrial ventures were failures. Stratford practically disappeared and Prosperous declined to such an extent as to be described by Lewis in 1837 as ‘little more than a pile of ruins' situated 'in a low marshy spot, surrounded by bogs and without water of importance nor reasonable hope of its revival' and more recently as a ‘straggling village labouring under its resounding name'.
A number of ráths have survived in the Prosperous area, indicating settlement of the place in early Christian times. Time has not been kind to these ancient fortifications although in the case of one, it has been preserved as the centrepiece of a housing development: Rath View. There is a fort, or rath, just outside Prosperous on the eastern side of The Blackstick (R409 road to Caragh).
It is possible that the townland of Downings takes its name from the word "Dún", the Irish for ‘fort', although questionable - given the higher proliferation of raths in many other parts of Ireland. Another explanation is that the local population used to converge at the nearby church on Sunday or in Irish Dé Domhnaigh [dʲeː ˈd̪ˠaun̪ˠiː] - a closer phonetic match. Some confusion arises after the late 1990s when a housing development in the village was named The Downings.
Downings graveyard and church ruins, in the townland of Downings North - north of the R403 to Allenwood, mark the place of the first Christian church in the area. Tradition states that the church occupies the site of the cell of St Farnan whose feast is celebrated on the 15th of February. Nearby is the well of St Farnan which is said to have been blessed by the saint, giving it the valuable property that those who drink of its water never after have any relish for intoxicating drink. The old parish in this area was known as Downings. It was joined to the parish of Caragh in the eighteenth century.
There is another ruined church surrounded by a graveyard at Killybegs. The Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem had a Commandery here but very little is known about it. A lease of 1538 refers to the priory and this points to its foundation before that date. The octagonal baptismal font with its carving of an angel, which is now at Prosperous church, came from Killybegs.
During penal times there was a Mass-house in the townland of Goatstown which is north of the Grand Canal. When the town of Prosperous was built, a Catholic church was erected near the cross-roads close to the present Drama Hall. This church was replaced by the present limestone church in 1869.
Thomas Harris (1895 – 18 February 1974) was a prominent Fianna Fáil politician from the town. A native of Cloncurry, near the Meath border, he was raised in Prosperous by his aunt Elizabeth Tierney. As a young man Thomas Harris had joined the Gaelic League while in school in Prosperous and subsequently joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, County Kildare. Harris fought with the Maynooth contingent in 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and was imprisoned in Frongoch, Wales until August 1916. Harris was later Captain of the Prosperous Company in 1917 and later Vice-Commandant North Kildare Battalion of the Irish Republican Army in 1921. A farmer, he represented the constituencies of Kildare from 1927 to 1937, Carlow–Kildare from 1937 to 1948, and Kildare again from 1948 to 1957. He lost his seat at the 1957 general election and retired from politics.
The town lent its name to Christy Moore's 1972 album, Prosperous, which was recorded there.
Battle of Prosperous
The ruin of the town was accelerated by the Rising of 1798 . Prosperous was one of the first places where the United Irishmen rose. In the early morning of 24 May 1798, a large group of rebels attacked the crown forces in the town. One of the buildings holding over 50 men, including the leader, Captain Swayne, was burned. Oral tradition relates that the rebels were led by Andrew Farrell and John Esmonde and assisted by Ruth Hackett in the burning of the barracks. She is featured on the 1798 monument in the town square. The rebels held Prosperous until the crown forces recaptured it on the 19th of June. The troops were under the command of Colonel Stewart who boasted of destroying "this receptacle of rebellion". He said that the soldiers found drums with the inscription "Prosperous Strength Exists in Unity and Liberty".
The modern town
Despite the disappearance of all of the industrial buildings several of the houses of 1780 have survived along the broad Main Street with its two squares. These add great charm to the historic core of the town centre. This, along with development along the main through-road, has effectively created a town in two sections. The main road through Prosperous is the R403 and the town is within 20 km (12 mi) of both the M4 (to the north) and M7 (to the south) motorways. Prosperous Main Street, however, runs perpendicular to the R403.
The village today meets the educational, shopping, social and community needs of the people of the surrounding area. It is now developing as a residential centre serving the present-day industrial development of northern Kildare and the growing city of Dublin. In 2011 it had 748 private households and its population was 2,248 consisting of 1,132 women and 1,116 men. At that time 888 people said they spoke Irish and 167 people said they spoke another language other than English or Irish.
Prosperous Dramatic Society Theatrical productions are held in the Drama Theatre, located in the Parish Centre. Programme details of various performances are printed in local newspapers and in their Facebook "Prosperous Drama"
Pitch and Putt A pitch and putt course is situated in the community field beside the Church. Facilities include a club house.
Tennis Courts Tennis courts situated beside the Church across from the local primary school.
Golf Society Christy's Golf Society is based in Christy's public house. It has a large and varied membership of locals and non locals who all frequent the pub. It was founded in 1995. Outings are once a month.
Soccer The local soccer club is Prosperous United A.F.C.
In summer months, a group of students from the Basque area of Spain come to Prosperous and stay at local homes.
Prosperous Music Festival
Prosperous Music Festival was founded in 2012 and finished after the 2018 edition. The was set in a number of different venues throughout the weekend including Downing's House, The Church of Our Lady and St. Joseph, St Farnan's Secondary School as well as the three pubs Christy's, Larry's and Dowling's. There are over 50 bands and acts at this event throughout the weekend and it was and still is a free-to-attend event. Lots of different types of music can be heard at the festival including Irish traditional, rock, funk, jazz, swing, country, metal, pop, rap, and much more by bands and artists from the Prosperous area and further out in the country. The festival annually attracted an average of 3,000 people.
Prosperous is well served by Bus Éireann route 120 Edenderry as well as routes 121 Tullamore and 123 Robertstown. Buses to Dublin depart as frequently as every 15–30 minutes during peak commuter times.
Primary education is provided by Prosperous National School/Scoil an Linbh Íosa. It has an enrolment of 500 pupils. Secondary education for Prosperous and surrounding areas is provided by Saint Farnan's Post-Primary School, which opened in 1941.
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