Church of the Little Ark

Title

Church of the Little Ark

Description

The Little Ark, currently located in the church at Moveen is a wooden box, containing an altar which was rolled onto the beach at low tide, to allow the Catholics practice their faith in the 19th century.

Creator

ActiveMe Heritage Services

Publisher

Clare County Council
The Heritage Council
Fáilte Ireland

Date

October 2014

Contributor

Ailish Connolly, Fr Michael Casey,

Rights

Full Rights. See signed release forms.

Identifier

WAW001_LH_008

GPS Location

52.578736, -9.867263

Short Interpretive Text

The Little Ark, currently located in the church at Moveen is a wooden box, containing an altar which was rolled onto the beach at low tide, to allow the Catholics practice their faith in the 19th century.

Medium Interpretive Text

In the 19th century, in spite of Catholic Emancipation the landlords of Loop Head refused permission for the building of a Catholic Church on their land. Various solutions such as using makeshift tents and turning abandoned houses into makeshift churches were forcibly removed by the landlord's agent. In 1852 Father Michael Meehan came up with the solution of building a wooden box on wheels, with an altar inside which could be rolled onto the beach at low tide The sea shore was no man's land. Mass, baptisms, weddings and funerals took place at the Little Ark before permission to build a church was granted in 1857. The Little Ark can be seen in an annex to the existing church at Moveen.

Long Interpretive Text

In the 19th century, in spite of Catholic Emancipation the Protestant landlords of Loop Head refused permission for the building of a Catholic Church on their land.  Catholic Emancipation involved reducing and removing many of the restrictions previously imposed on Roman Catholics to practicing their faith.  The Loop Head Peninsula was a part of the estates once forfeited by Lord Clare, and had become the property of Burton and Westby. Their agent Marcus Keane was adamant in his refusal to accommodate the local community’s efforts to build a church. This was unacceptable to the locals, who wished to practice their faith. They came up with a number of solutions including using makeshift tents and turning abandoned houses into temporary churches but these were forcibly removed by Marcus Keane. Masses were also said in some of the farmer’s houses but they were subsequently threatened with eviction if they persisted with the practice. 

 

In 1852 Father Michael Meehan came up with the solution of building a wooden box on wheels, with an altar inside which could be rolled onto the beach at low tide as the sea shore was considered no man's land. He commissioned a carpenter, Owen Collins in Carrigaholt to build the Ark at a cost of £10. The design was inspired by the Victorian Bathing Machines in Kilkee. The Ark had to be built on the street at Carrigaholt as it was too large for the carpenter’s workshop and was completed in two weeks. For five years, masses, baptisms, weddings and funerals took place at the Little Ark before permission to build a church was granted in 1857. The unique Little Ark has been preserved and can be seen in an annex to the existing church at Moveen, originally dedicated to Our Lady, Star of the Sea but more commonly known as the Church of the Little Ark.

Site Recommendations and Observations

It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided in both directions from Kilbaha and from the Bridges of Ross. The provision of an arrival sign consistent with the existing aesthetics of the church should also be considered in conjunction with the Church Authorities.

Due to the location of the Ark within the local church, it is recommended that consideration be given to building a replica of the Ark for promotional use, potential future events and other uses.

The proposed interpretation material should compliment the existing interpretation material within the church.

It is recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at this site.

The following three statements apply to all site recommendations:

  • ‘All proposals must comply with all planning, local authority and other statutory requirements.’
  • ‘All proposals for development within, adjacent to or with the potential to affect a Natura 2000 site will be subject to an Appropriate Assessment Screening. To ensure that a Habitat Directive Assessment is carried out to assess the likely impacts on Natura 2000 sites in order to comply with Article 6(3) of the Habitat Directive and in accordance with the requirements of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.’
  • ‘All projects must be undertaken in accordance with the Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Points Remedial Works Guidelines, including the Ecological Method Statement.’

Sources of Information

1) Interview with Ailish Connolly

2) Interview with Fr. Michael Connolly

3)  Online Research

  • www.loophead.ie
  • www.clarelibrary.ie

Other Research and Facts

Clune, V. Rev J. cc ‘The Little Ark’. Booklet available at Moveen Church.

Site Ownership

Public Access during Church opening hours. Church is part of the Kilballyowen Parish and Killaloe Diocese.

Cycle Parking

No

Category

Historical
Archaeological

Sub-Category

Church

County

Clare

Nearest Town

Kilkee

Toilet Facilities

Yes

Accessible Toilet

No

Accessible Access

Yes

Parking

Parking available outside Moveen Church.

Map Number

63

Heritage Designation

Church

Category of Interest

Historical

Travel Information

Site is open to the public. Public access available during church opening hours

Website

[no text]

Opening Times

Open daily but subject to change

Entrance Fee

Entrance Free

Contact Number

[no text]

Email Address

[no text]

Site Location Summary

The site is located off the WAW route on a local road approximately half way between the village of Kilbaha and Ross. Although the existing road quality between Kilbaha and the site is sufficient, it deteriorates somewhat between the site and Bridges of Ross.

Geolocation

Citation

ActiveMe Heritage Services, “Church of the Little Ark,” Wild Atlantic Way Heritage Trails, accessed February 23, 2020, https://wildatlanticway.omeka.net/items/show/18.