The Gaelic League in Prosperous
The Gaelic League was founded in 1893 in order to reverse the decline in the Irish Language and would become an early recruitment ground for the Irish Volunteers. The Prosperous Branch of the Gaelic League held two very successful concerts on the evening of 22nd and 23rd April 1911, where Mr. J. Bell of Monasterevin provided the star turn with a rendition of ‘The little shirt my mother made me’. The Prosperous branch also held an ‘Aeriocht’ every summer, where Irish dancing, singing and instrumental music were performed in a local field on a wooden stage. One such Aeriocht was held in ‘a suitable enclosure’ in the centre of Prosperous on Sunday 3rd August 1913, where local man, A. Nevin, gave an exhibition of Irish dancing. Musicians from Dublin, Celbridge and Prosperous also contributed, and harking back to the famous 1798 Battle of Prosperous, proceedings were concluded with the singing of ‘Who fears to speak of ‘98’.
The Gaelic League also promoted the teaching of Irish, although they found it difficult to retain teachers. Sean O’Connor, who ran classes in North Kildare in 1912-1913, began promoting the Independence movement in the area by bringing ‘Irish Freedom’ and other newspapers around to his classes. In this way, local men became involved in the political discussions of the time and some were introduced to the Irish Republican Brotherhood by O’Connor. These included Thomas Harris, who would be active in the Independence struggle and later interned in Ballykinlar, Co. Down. The Prosperous branch of the Gaelic League would continue to be active even during the War of Independence. In 1920, Fr. P. O’Brien, the Curate at Prosperous, was appointed the delegate for North Kildare to the Executive Committee of the Gaelic League.