From the exterior, St. Michan’s Church looks like a regular old church. But it’s not just a regular church as a mountain of fascinating history is captured in time within its structure. St Michan’s Parish Church is located in the heart of inner city Dublin and has been a place of worship since 1095. In true Irish grace, mass is still celebrated to this day in this historic Church.
The church was rebuilt in 1685 and underwent further extensive repairs in 1828. During the shelling of the Four Courts in 1922, the roof of the church suffered extensive damage and the east window was shattered and repaired with plain glass. The St. Michan’s organ is believed to be one of the oldest organs that’s still in use in Ireland today. Legend says that George F. Handel played the St. Michan’s organ when composing The Messiah!
Thousands of tourists flock to St. Michan’s Church every year, but they don’t all visit for the purpose of private prayer. The church is home to Ireland’s most famous crypts, where mummified remains dating back centuries can be observed. The crypts are located at the bottom of a narrow stone stairway, with the tunnel lined either side by long, narrow galleries for the placing of coffins. Some of these coffins are closed, however some are open, with mummified remains in full view.
There are four coffins in particular that form the most significant attraction. Three of the coffins lie in a row across the front of the crypt; a woman lies in the coffin on the right, a man with a hand and both feet cut off lies in a coffin in the centre and a nun lies in a coffin on the left. The coffin along the rear wall is that of the “Crusader”, a man believed to have been a soldier that returned from the Crusades. His body has been cut in half so that it could fit in the coffin and one of his hands is lifted slightly in the air. In the final room of the crypt lie the coffins of the Sheare brothers, Henry and John, who were both members of the Society of United Irishmen and were infamously executed by British soldiers due to their part in the 1798 uprising against British rule.
When visiting St. Michan’s Church, it is also worth taking a walk through the graveyard. Oliver Bond, who took part in the 1798 Rising, and mathematician William Rowan Hamilton are buried there while it is also believed that the remains of Robert Emmet, executed during the 1803 Rising, are also interred at St. Michan’s. It is free to take a look around the church and the grounds, however admission fees do apply for visiting the crypts. For religious reasons, visits to the crypts are not permitted on Sundays or other religious occasions such as Good Friday.
Why visit St. Michan’s Church?
- Admission to the crypts is inexpensive and it is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
- Some key figures of Irish history are laid to rest here. It is a must-visit attraction for tourists exploring Irish heritage.
- How often do you get to see well-preserved mummies? A visit to St. Michan’s is certainly a story that you will be recalling to friends and family for years to come.