We have moved to www.invisible-ireland.com
See this post and more at our new website!
There has been a church on this site in Dublin since the year 1075. 1075 just think about that. It was apparently named after a Danish Bishop. It’s also credited as Dublin’s first north side church so the north side/south side rivalry is a little older then we think! St. Michan’s in its current guise was rebuilt in 1685 and required renovations in 1825. It is hidden away but easily accessible in Dublin city centre.
So why come and visit? Is it not just another dusty old church? Well no. St. Michan’s sits atop of a crypt containing mummified remains. Dracula was inspired by a visit here. The author, not the vampire himself. Had Dracula come to Dublin no doubt the Department of Tourism wouldn’t have missed the photo opportunity of sitting him in Temple Bar with a pint of Guinness in his hand. It also has a legendary organ with a masterpiece of wood carving attached to it.
So how are there mummies in Dublin? The walls of the crypt and foundations contain limestone. This prevented damp getting in and the cool even dry air is actually ideal for preservation. A total accident. There are five burial vaults in total. The most famous buried here are the Shears brothers. These lads visited Paris in 1792, witnessing the French Revolution and meeting its leaders. They saw the introduction of that macabre symbol of the revolution, the guillotine. Politicised the men came back to Dublin and were involved in the United Irish movement and ultimately doomed 1798 rebellion. They were tried and hung on 14th July 1798 before the rebellion was over.
Buried alongside the Sheares Brothers are the Crusader, a nun, a thief and an unknown. The Crusader was running a little bit late as he is only 650 years old. Everyone loves a trier though. The thief is missing a hand hence the nickname. Why the nun is deemed to be a nun I have no idea and the unknown you can no doubt guess! Bram Stoker (Born in Clontarf, Dublin) the author of Dracula is believed to have visited here with his family when he was young. So we are taking credit for that one to.
Now upstairs is quite significant too. The organ has its own story to tell. Georg Friedrich Händel apparently played ‘Messiah’ here for the first time here. Mr Händel was German born but settled in London. During the summer of 1741 he was invited to Dublin so of course we now claim the performance debut for one of his greatest works. No doubt there is also a picture of him holding a pint of Guinness in someones attic. Officially he DID perform Messiah for the first time at the music hall on Fishamble Street. Sooooo realistically he would have had to rehearse somewhere…..St. Michan’s perhaps?
On this hallowed organ sits a stunning organ trophy. This single piece wooden structure contains no less than 17 musical instruments. It believed to have been carved by Henry Houghton or John Houghton and was installed in 1724.
St Michan’s welcomes tourists and gives tours of its crypts Monday to Saturday. Check there website for up to date times and prices. Adult prices are around €5.