The Little Ark < Back

Little Ark is a great Irish tourist attraction

In the 19th century, the landlords of Loop Head refused to give over a site for the building of a church for Roman Catholic worship in Kilbaha.

The local priest at the time, Fr Michael Meehan, came up with the idea of celebrating mass on the foreshore, which is no man’s land. In 1852, he oversaw the building of a Little Ark – a wooden box on wheels, containing an altar – which could be rolled onto the beach at low tide.

For five years, mass was celebrated, couples were married and children were baptised there by the sea in Kilbaha. Eventually, a site for a church was granted, and in 1857, the first stone was turned on Kilbaha’s present church. It was dedicated to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, but nowadays is better known as the Church of the Little Ark.

The Little Ark has been preserved and can be seen today in an annexe to the church.

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3 comments on The Little Ark

  1. Brenda Barr

    Are there any baptismal records for the Church of the Little Ark?
    My ggg grandfather Michael Blake was born on Loop Head
    county Clare in 1799.
    Catherine Blake his daughter my gg grand mother was born there in 1847 she had several brothers and sisters. Timothy,Ellen, Mary T, and Michael
    Michael Blake married Johanna Jordan there and the family moved to Canada around 1855 to 1857 later to the USA.
    Thank you for any help you may be able to give me.
    Brenda Madden Barr

  2. John Blake

    Slainte Brenda,
    It’s a small world! I too am descended from Michael Blake. I had the County Clare Geneological Society do some research on him, which I would be happy to share with you. Likewise, my wife & I traveled from our home in the States to the Loop Head Peninsula in July 2013. I have many pictures from there, including several from a cemetery in Cross containing Blake family headstones. I would be happy to share those with you as we’ll. if you’re interested, feel free to send me an email at: .

    Regards, John Blake

  3. Murray Michael Ginnane

    Hi Brenda & John & all others descended from this area, — from Murray Ginnane in New Zealand — My emigrant great-grandfather John Ginnane was born in Rahona East about 1852. His parents were Patrick Ginnane(1809-May1878) & Mary Murray(1819-Dec1878).

    As for local genealogy info, — I have transcribed the Carrigaholt-Querrin-Doonaha-Cross-Kilbaha-Moveen-Moneen-Kilballyowen areas Marriage(920) & Baptism(4,000) Catholic Registers from 1852-3 to 1878. If anyone would like a free 3,000-page DRAFT emailed to them, please email me ?
    When they are finished, I’ll be allowed to put { only a basic version of } them on

    I also collect & include there, every scrap of general parish & family history I can find : also photos of the original registers. All contributions gratefully accepted.

    For Brenda Barr — the Little Ark “Register entries” { along with those of the older church at Doonaha, & those at Cross & Moneen } were ALL included in date order in the front & back sections of the ONE BOOK under CARRIGAHOLT while Fr Michael Meehan was Parish Priest. His younger half-brother, Fr Patrick Meehan, was also priest here about the 1857-1860s. Soon after Fr Michael died on Jan 24th 1878 the parish group broke up & kept separate Registers. Fr Michael is buried in front of the Little Ark at Moneen. He was also brought up by his maternal-aunt near there.

    Slainte, MMG

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