Slideshow: inside the 'mosque above the shop' and other Sacred Spaces

Sacred Spaces explores the creative re-appropriation of existing space into religious space, and the adaptation of existing sacred space for new uses

Sacred Space is a photographic project and exhibition by Eugene Langan which celebrates the 'making' and 'unmaking' of sacred space in Dublin. The exhibition explores the creative re-appropriation of existing space into religious space, such as the 'mosque above the shop' or the 'church in the warehouse'. The use of former light-industrial or underused buildings by Ireland's diverse religious communities is a growing phenomenon. In parallel with this, the exhibition also explores the adaptation – or unmaking – of existing sacred space for new uses.

The photographer met with the many religious communities who have established churches, mosques and places of worship in unusual locations, often buildings in industrial estates on the outskirts of the city. Working with the communities the photographer gained their trust and was invited inside to witness their ceremonies in the converted spaces.

Speaking about the work the Langan said: “My task was to produce a photo essay that would capture the mood and atmosphere of different churches, temples, mosques which were originally commercial buildings. I managed to get access to a variety of locations and was privileged to experience the fervour and rituals at first hand. It was a fascinating experience and doubly so when I compared this with the monocultural Dublin I grew up in. Technically this project was a big challenge; most of the Sacred Spaces had very low light levels. I don't think I could have done this project using film - maybe in black and white but certainly not using colour film”

Sacred Space was funded under the Government Policy on Architecture, 2009-2015 'Towards a Sustainable Future'. Aodhán Ó'Ríordán T.D. Minister of State with special responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality opened the exhibition.


Sacred Space portrays the city as a place of dynamic change, of human ingenuity and of tremendous community spirit, against a background of economic uncertainty. Speaking on behalf of Dublin City Council, who co-funded the exhibition, Dublin City Architect, Ali Grehan, said: 'The exhibition is a timely contribution to the general discussion throughout Europe, while rooted in the particular experience of people in Dublin; making homes, seeking work, raising families and finding the sacred here".

Accompanying the exhibition is a publication Sacred Space with essays and contributions by Dr. Eoin O'Mahoney, Dr. Melanie Brown, Martin Colreavy, Ali Grehan, Charles Duggan, Denis Byrne, Niall McLaughlin and Fr Nicolas Madden. Copies are available for purchase for €15 at the exhibition. The exhibition is open to the public at the darc space gallery (Dublin Architecture Space), 26 North Great George's Street, Dublin, continues until the end of April.