St. Michan's Church, Dublin

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - 10 Reviews

Church St. Lower 01-872-4154

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  • Not a coal chute, but  the entrance to the crypt
    Not a coal chute, but the entrance to...
    by christine.j
  • Flowers near the churchyard
    Flowers near the churchyard
    by christine.j
  • St. Michan's organ, on which Handel has played
    St. Michan's organ, on which Handel has...
    by Jefie
  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    Dublin's most unusual attraction... by far!

    by Jefie Updated May 22, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sylvain in one of St. Michan's crypts
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    Speaking of spooky mummies, that's exactly what St. Michan's Church is famous for! St. Michan's is the oldest church north of the Liffey and the present building, dating back to 1686, was built on the foundations of an old Viking chapel dating back to 1095. The church is very simply decorated, so our eyes are immediately drawn to the church's beautiful organ, on which Handel is believed to have composed his "Messiah" in the summer of 1741. But the real attraction at St. Michan's lies beneath the church. Our tour guide met with us inside the church and led us to one of the two crypts that are open to visitors. I hadn't truly thought about what I was getting myself into until I made my way through the narrow trap and down the old stone steps. Our guide was delightfully weird and obviously took great pleasure in describing the gruesome executions of Henry and John Sheares, leaders of the 1798 rebellion. He told us about the history of the church and the burials that have taken place there over the years, pointing out which crypts were still active and which contained the freshest bodies.

    As we made our way into the second crypt, he explained how the limestone used to build the church's foundations keeps the air dry and at an even temperature, creating conditions that are perfect to trigger the mummification process. It can be assumed that all the bodies buried at St. Michan's have turned into mummies, but it is illegal to open up caskets. Four caskets, however, have cracked open and revealed what they contained... Not being a huge fan of dead people, it took all I had to look at the strange mummified bodies, and when our guide invited us to walk into the crypt to touch one of the mummies (thought to be the body of a crusader), I could not bring myself to do it. But Sylvain did it, and the gesture is supposed to bring good luck. Time to get a lottery ticket, I guess!

    Admission: 3.50 Euros

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  • christine.j's Profile Photo

    An 800-year-old hand shake

    by christine.j Written May 5, 2009

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    Not a coal chute, but  the entrance to the crypt
    1 more image

    St Michan's church is famous for its well preserved mummies and they were the reason we went there. The oldest mummy is supposed to be that of a crusader, about 800 years old. Because of the dry limestone and the low temperatures in the crypt the bodies have turned into mummies. You have to join a tour to see them.

    We had a very good tour guide, he almost acted out his stories and made the tour great fun. The "high point" of the tour is when he allows the group to touch the hand of the oldest mummy.First I thought I wouldn't do it, but most probably this would be the only time in my life to touch an 800-year-old corpse, so I did it. A very strange feeling, let me tell you. It's supposed to be lucky, I don't know if it worked , but we were very lucky during our whole stay in Dublin.

    To get to the crypt you have to climb down some steep, uneven steps - not for anybody who has trouble walking.

    I was somewhat disappointed though, as I had looked forward to seeing the church, too, not just the mummies. But contrary to what it says on the website, the church was
    cordoned off for visitors, and the tour never went in there. A pity, as it looked very interesting from what I could see.

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  • Shaking hands with the Crusader

    by Bishops Updated Jun 14, 2007

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    St. Michin’s is a very old church on the north side of the River Liffey that has crypts that date from before the 16th century. The older crypts contained 4 mummies, two believed to be nuns, one a reformed criminal, all dating from about 400 years ago. The fourth mummy is believed to be a Crusader dating from over 800 years ago. We were lucky to have the opportunity to "shake hands" with the Crusader, actually just rubbing his finger, which is meant to bring good luck. Its worth a look, the host is very knowledgeable and isnt pushy. The crypts can feel claustrophobic at the start but you get use to it very quickly. It not too touristy or expensive and has a some great historical figures resting there.

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    Mummies in the basement

    by BeerMe. Updated May 12, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Mummified bodies in crypt

    This is the best thing to do north of the Liffy not described as 'shopping.' The church is not far from the Liffy or O'Connell Street so it is generally within walking distance of most downtown hostels/hotels. The tours here seem to be on the smaller side as they are on a sort of show up and be shown around basis. The guide I had was knowledgeable and animated-a real Irishman! His witty anecdotes combined masterfully with the spooky aura of the crypt and its stench...OOOOOhhh....the stench....

    All in all a fun and somewhat disturbing experience. If you behave yourself and you have a little luck on your side, the guide might let you "shake hands" with the mummy in the back (though it is more of a very,very delicate touch). A crusader according to lore, he's been known to give out good luck in spades.

    This may be the only place in the world where they actually let you touch a real mummified body.

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    St Michan's church

    by Ruai Written Apr 15, 2007

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    St Michan's has been a favourite for generations of Irish schoolkids. When the country was a lot poorer than it is now, a school outing usually consisted of being thrown onto a bus and brought to somewhere of local interest and for kids you did'nt get more fascinating than St Michan's :)

    St Michan's is one of the oldest churchs in the city, dating back to the 11th century. Although only ever a parish church it has some noteworthy features dating mostly to the 17th and 18th centuries when much of it was rebuilt. However, what makes it a ghoulish delight for kids is its crypt, where almost perfect preservative conditions have mumified a number of bodies, some of which can be seen as the tops of their coffins have been removed. By popular legend at least one of these was a returned crusader but in reality who knows. A popular practice in times past was to shake hands with one of the mummy's!

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  • Shake hands with a mummy

    by RblWthACoz Written Dec 18, 2005

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    If you make sure to do one thing while you are in Dublin, this is the one thing you WANT to do. Saint Michan's may look like a tired old church on the outside, but it's history is rich and vibrant. It is said that Handel played the organ at the church that was installed in the early 1700's. But way more interesting than that little tidbit is what's in the basement. The crypt is the keeper of the secret here. When the caskets deteriorated and collapsed (from the weight and pressure of caskets stacked on top of caskets), it was discovered that the crypt possessed perfect conditions for the creation of mummies. The bodies of the dead remained virtually unchanged, with even their hair staying intact. The tour takes you into two crypts, and you actually get to "shake the hand" of a supposed Crusader.

    Open:
    November 1st to March 16th - Monday to Friday - 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm
    March 17th to October 31st - Monday to Friday - 10 am to 12:45 pm, 2 pm to 4:30 pm
    Saturday (all year) 10:00 am to 12:45 pm

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  • wodensson's Profile Photo

    Underground Crypt

    by wodensson Updated May 26, 2005

    Its a few euros (3 i think) for a guided tour around the crypts, as there are two you go in. The tour guide is unbelievably annoying, one of those who keeps making un-funny remarks that you pretend to find funny, but in truth you would like to give a smack in the gob to him. Anyway, in the first crypt are 4 mummified bodies, one has no feet, as he was too big for the coffin so they chopped them off.
    In the other crypt are a few family vaults, some which are still in use and also the Shearer brothers who were hung drawn and quartered by the British for their part in trying to raise the republicans to war and terrorism.
    Its a fairly intresting tour, lasts about 40 mins. You cannot take photos.

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  • chrisvandenbroucke's Profile Photo

    Dublin, St. Michan's Church

    by chrisvandenbroucke Written Feb 11, 2004

    A guide gives you all the necessary information about the dark crypts where skeletons of famous Irish men were buried

    Their bodies are extremely well conserved because of the constantly dry magnesiumair

    The guide acts like a stand-up comedian and entertains his guest.

    Touching the hand of a 800-years old mummy should bring you happiness

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  • IrishFem's Profile Photo

    Mummies

    by IrishFem Written May 31, 2003

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    Mummified remains can be found in this protestant church. Under ground the tour guide takes you below the church to look at the mummies one which has a huge fingernail and legend has it if you touch it it will bring you good luck. The last l heard someone stole it. The reason the mummies are so well preserved is due to the dry atmosphere created by limestone and methane. Not for the faint hearted. The tour guide although he looks he just stepped out of one of the coffins is very interesting and knows his stuff.

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  • A walk in the crypt

    by EmmaF Written Apr 22, 2003

    St Michaels Church. very close and in walkable distance from city centre

    They have got mummyfied bodys in a kind of dungeon under the church, very interesing if you are into that sort of thing, or are just curious as I was bit spooky but then again I am a girl. And when you have finished there you could go on to the distilery next door.

    You can get all these trips in the tourist information centre, but we just went ourselves.

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    • Archeology
    • Budget Travel
    • Historical Travel

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