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It is notable for educating many Roman Catholic priests, but also provides courses in Humanities and Social Studies to the laity.
During the nineteenth century, students studied Philosophy, Theology, Mathematics, Languages and Law at Carlow College.
In the 1840s, 50's and 60's, students at the college sat for the award of B.A. or B.LL. (Law), from the University of London.
Carlow College or St Patrick's as it is known locally, is one of Ireland's oldest educational institutions.
From 1793 to 1892, it educated both lay people and those studying for the priesthood.
From 1892 up to 1989, the college was operating principally as a seminary for the priesthood.
In the 1990s, it reclaimed its primary role as a college of the Humanities for lay people.
Currently (as of 2009), there is an approximate student body of 700 students, full and part-time, taking degrees in the Humanities (in all fields of Philosophy, Theology and the Liberal Arts) and in the fields of Social Care; however this number is likely to increase in the forthcoming years as the college has built a fine reputation of being a 'home away from home,' as the college has a unique, community-orientated ethos.
As of the 2006-2007 academic years, the college has opened a magnificently designed state-of-the-art library situated in the old college chapel.
The library is named in memory of Fr P. J. Brophy, a former president of the college, who bequeathed his full library to the college.
On the 12th of December, 2006, the President of Ireland, Mary Mc Aleese, officially opened the Fr P. J. Brophy Memorial Library and the Kathleen Brennan Student Services Centre.