In the far corner of the Loop Head Peninsula lie the tiny church of Moneen with a small treasure trove from the nineteenth century’s local history.
The ‘Little Ark’ of Kilbaha was one result of one’s man’s struggle to exert a community’s right to freedom of expression.
Father Michael Meehan had the impossible task of consecrating mass against the force of Marcus Keane, an agent of an absentee landlord.
Marcus prohibited the celebration of mass in the locality so Fr. Meehan had to find a creative way of celebrating mass, weddings and baptisms.
The solution was simple; create an ark and bring it out of the landlord’s estate.
Local carpenter Owen Collins set about constructing the fragile vessel that would harbour much of the community’s life defining events between the years of 1852 until 1857.
However, contrary to popular belief, Sunday mass was celebrated on a crossroads near today’s Moneen church and not out on the ocean’s edge.
The landlord’s agent had no land rights on the public road, so he prosecuted Fr Meehan for being a ‘public nuisance.’
In the meantime the congregation swelled against the mounting frustration of Marcus Keane.
In Court the Judge ruled against the agents, who took the case to Dublin where he failed once more in his effort to halt Fr. Meehan.
This was the corner stone for the construction on Moneen Church on the same site.
Father Meehan died in 1878 but his memory lingers on in the tiny church of Moneen in Loop Head, and of course in the little ark which remains in the church to this day…