Tobar Mhuire Monastery, Crossgar

The brief was to design and implement liturgical changes to the chapel of Tobar Mhuire monastery, Crossgar, Co. Down. A contemporary worship space was required, welcoming to worshippers and visitors of all ages, consistent with the vision of the Passionist Order, that the monastery be a place of learning, affirmation and outreach. The worship space was also to be capable of secular use –seminars, recitals, concerts and other cultural events.


It was clear that the existing chapel needed to be radically overhauled whilst retaining the core spirituality of the order, centered on the Passion of Jesus. It needed to express their mission: being out in the world transforming it.

To that end the chapel interior was simplified, the existing raised sanctuary removed, and the floor made level throughout creating a unified space. Pews were replaced with chairs and moveable liturgical furniture including a new altar, ambo and presider’s chair all in wood. A new tabernacle in cast aluminium commissioned from Brian Byrne, Dublin, ‘floating’ on glass supporting panels was located in a recess that can be appropriately concealed by sliding timber acoustic partitions during secular activities.


The main entrance to the chapel was moved from the centre of the courtyard gable to make way for a central visual access, beginning in the entrance archway of the courtyard, passing through the centre of the chapel and terminating at a large cross on a hill beyond. New Stations of the Cross are located in the courtyard and direct the visitor to the new entrance. They are cast bronze figures by Brian Byrne, mounted on fifteen steel stanchions. They are visceral, raw and immediate by design, confronting and inviting a new interaction between the Passion and the viewer. They are arranged so that the road to Golgotha can be followed individually. Here the Stations are freed from the constraints of the liturgical hierarchy of the chapel located at the spatial heart of the monastery itself.

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Rooney + McConville

13 Upper Crescent



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