ByRoute 10.1 Co.Kildare // Co. Offaly (S)

The Millenium Maze at Ballinafagh Farm is designed in the shape of a St. Brigid’s Cross. The fully grown labarynth covers approximately 1 acre with more than 1.5 miles of paths between hedges over 6 feet high. The farm also has a pets corner with donkeys, goats, hens, rabbits, etc.

Prosperous (Co. Kildare / Central)

Prosperous (An Chorrchoill) (pop. 2000) has grown considerably in recent years and is now primarily a commuter satellite of DUBLIN.  The town’s historic core comprises the broad Main Street and two squares, featuring some handsomely restored late C18th houses.

Church Bell, Prosperous (Photo by Littlejohnyprosperous)

The area has attracted farmers from earliest times, as evidenced by the impressive number of local raths / ring forts, built to protect prehistoric and early Christian family dwellings.

Prosperous was optimistically named and developed in 1780 by Captain Robert Brook as a centre for cotton manufacturing, with an initial population of 4,000. The venture failed despite huge investment.

Prosperous and the 1798 Rebellion

 

At 2:00 in the morning of 24th May 1798 over 500 insurgents led by Dr John Esmond and Andrew Farrell killed a number of locally billeted soldiers in their beds before setting fire to the barracks housing most of the hated City of Cork militia and the Ancient Britons, a Welsh cavalry regiment, who had been terrorising the area in previous days.

 

Many who tried to escape were piked to death in the streets. Of the 57 soldiers in the garrison, nearly 40 were killed. The yeomanry commander, Captain Richard Longford Swayne, was piked and shot, and his body was burnt in a tar barrel.

 

The next day, members of the Ancient Britons engaged in a retaliatory massacre of 34 suspected United Irishmen at Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow.

 

In Prosperous, a drunken mob torched houses and murdered a cotton manufacturer named Brewer, a land agent called Stamers, and an elderly retired  army sergeant.

 

When Crown forces under Lieut. Col. Charles Stewart recaptured Prosperous on 19th June, they ransacked and burnt “this receptacle of Rebellion”.

 

Prosperous suffered such a steep decline that it was described in 1837 (by Lewis) 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 later as a “straggling village labouring under its resounding name”.

The  monument in the town’s main square commemorates Ruth Hackett, who incited and helped the 1798 arsonists.

St Farnan’s church (RC) was built in 1869 to replace a crossroads chapel erected c.1780. The octagonal baptismal font was taken from nearby Killybegs church.

Prosperous cottage. (Photo by Corky)

Prosperous today is a thriving town with a strong community spirit, most evident in the active local amateur dramatic group’s well-attended productions at the Parish Centre‘s Drama Theatre.

There are several good pubs, notably Christy’s, the headquarters of the Prosperous Golfing Society, which makes up for the town’s lack of a golf course by organising monthly outings.

The most famous resident of Prosperous is undoubtedly Christy Moore, probably Ireland’s most popular, talented and original folk musician.

Prosperous is

Downings parish church, now ruined, was built on the site of an ancient hermitage inhabited by Saint Farnan, who blessed a nearby Holy Well in such a way that the water permanently removes relish for intoxicating drink.

Killybegs church, also in ruins, was the site of a Commandery of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem.

Goatstown, a townland between Prosperous and the Grand Canal, was the location of as Penal Law era Mass house.

The Grand Canal near Prosperous, where the annual Prosperous Coarse Angling Festival has been held every June for over 30 years, with record numbers of fish being caught on many occasions (Photo by leicalooney)

 

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