Maynooth College was founded in 1795 when revolutionary developments in Europe had closed the continental seminaries. Maynooth rapidly developed into a seminary larger than any that had existed before. By 1853, it was claimed that more than half the priests of Ireland had been educated at Maynooth. The continuing growth of the student body allowed it to develop university status. For two hundred years, therefore, Maynooth has played a pivitol role within the Catholic Church in Ireland often reflecting the political and social evolution of Ireland itself.