Church of the Little Ark
The Heritage Council
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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
Other Research and Facts