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A short walk from Baltinglass Abbey lies, an interesting tower, situated in the middle of St. Josephs cemetery on Chapel Hill. It is a very interesting Tower in that it was built independently from any other structure. It is believed to date from Penal times. Throughout most of the eighteenth century the Penal Laws were in force in Ireland. They were aimed at bolstering the position of the Protestant ruling class and they restricted the religious practices of Roman Catholic and Protestant Non-Conformist denominations. One of these laws forbade priests from officiating in a chapel with a steeple or bell. Luke Gardiner’s second Catholic Relief Act, passed in 1782, removed many restrictions on priests and Catholic worship but retained the prohibition regarding a steeple or bell.
Throughout the period of the Penal Laws their enforcement depended very much on the attitude of those in power locally. By the late eighteenth…
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