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Prosperous National School 1731 - 1986

Written by Rev. P. Dunny C.C. 

The earliest reference to a school in Prosperous is contained in “Returns on The State of Property in Ireland,” by the bishops and ministers of the Established Church. We are informed by this hostile source that in 1731 “there is a Popish school constantly kept in the Mass-house by the church of CAROGH” So this school must have survived the Penal Days and the persecution of the 18th and early 19th centuries. The Relief Act of 1772 gave Catholics the right to teach in schools. Ten years later, a further concession made it unnecessary to obtain a license from the Protestant Bishop of the diocese in order for a Catholic to teach.

Near to Prosperous there is reference to a school in 1824 at Healy’s Bridge, Downings with 48 pupils on the rolls and taught by a Mr. Thomas Bannon. “Currahills” at this time seems to have had three schools, which were probably of the hedge-school variety.

  • Pat Grannan had 24 pupils under his care, although the Curate of the time remarked that he was a land surveyor and “not to attentive as would be wished for.”
  • Ellen Phillips had 39 pupils in a brick and slated house in Currahills.
  • And finally, a Mary Gibson held school in a small shop for 12 children
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Not all Catholic children attended such schools or indeed were interested in attending school at all. In 1831 the National Education Board was set up and the new system was generally acceptable to the Catholic clergy. When a school began to receive assistance from the National Board, the person who applied for the aid was recognised as manager of that school, a position which included amongst other things, the powers of appointment and dismissal of teachers. In almost every case it was the Parish Priest who made the application and so automatically became manager.

The present “Old School” here, is now used for all sorts of recreational pastimes and small business and was built in 1846. Over the years we have seen the Prosperous Drama Society, Prosperous Billiards and Snooker Club, Cubs and Scouts, Youth Clubs, Music Classes, Unislim and many more. It is now the central hub of Prosperous Parish and in particular the much loved Muintreas Group. This building was constructed in 1846 and the plaque still remains on the front of the building.

Many generations of Prosperous people have received their education within its hallowed walls. It’s days as a school only ended in July 1984. In the early days of that century, Adult classes were held for the “Three R’s.”

In the year 1888, there were 70 boys in Prosperous school and among those on the Infant Roll was the name of Gus Nevin, who grew into a much loved and respected local man.

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The present school excluding the new and old extension, was built in 1946. There were in fact two separate schools, male and female until amalgamation in 1941 when 46 boys and 41 girls were on the rolls. The land where the school now lies was purchased by Very Rev. J. Bennett P.P. from a distant relative in Ballyfermot. There was once an old cottage there known as “Mangans House of Parliament.” The big increase in population in the late 70’s and early 80’s quickly drove up the number of students and teachers on the rolls which at the time, 1986, was 340 pupils and 11 teachers. In fact, at the time it was one of the largest rural schools in the Diocese.

There was great pride locally when on a sunny Wednesday October 3rd 1984, the new £350,000 extension was formally opened before a large crowd of people by Mr. Joe Bermingham, Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, who said that the magnificent new extension was a further achievement in the provision of educational facilities in the county. He went on: “Like other parts of Kildare, Prosperous has enjoyed a considerable expansion in population in recent years. New housing estates have appeared and many people who work in towns such as Naas, Newbridge and indeed Dublin, have chosen to stay at home in their native parish. This has added immensely to the social and economic climate in the region, but has also placed an obligation on the various authorities to provide the necessary services that a new young and vibrant population demands.” He also said that with this extension the school was now as modern and comfortable as any in the country.

Mr. Jim Gallagher, School Principal at the time, said the school did not have a name up to this and it was now to be called “Scoil An Linbh Íosa.” He also described the new school crest and welcomed former headmaster of the school for many years, Mr. Michael Brosnan and his wife. The school facilities in Prosperous back then were excellent and as such, gave our young people a good grounding in acquiring the knowledge needed to fit them out for the rigours of life ahead.

Written by Rev. P. Dunny C.C.

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