There is a chapel near Dublin that is famous for its darker side. The chapel is Saint Michans and tourists do not goSaint Michans church there to see fine woodwork or old world architecture, actually, they come there for the mummies.

Built on the site of an early Danish chapel (1095), the current structure dates largely from a reconstruction in 1686, but is still the only parish church on the north side of the Liffey surviving from a Viking foundation.

While the exterior of the church may be unimpressive, the interior boasts some fine woodwork, and an organ (dated 1724) on which Handel is said to have composed his Messiah.

Further into the bowels of the church, the vaults of St. Michan’s uniquely contain many mummified remains. The walls in the vaults contain limestone, which has kept the air dry, creating ideal conditions for preservation. Among the preserved remains are a 400-year-old nun, a six-and-a-half foot alleged crusader, Henry and John Sheares (leaders of the 1798 rebellion), and a body with its hands and feet severed. The various holders of the title Earl of Kenmare were also interred here.

St. Michan’s church contains plenty of coffins and 4 mummies. We can say that many of those people did not die peaceful or natural deaths since one of the mummies is missing hands and feet and other residents of the church’s bowels were known to have been hanged, drawn and quartered by the British for treason.

St. michan coffins

Many of the coffins have decayed, exposing skulls, hands, feet and other body parts. Some of the coffins belong to nobles and are decorated with crowns and other symbols of their status in life.

The main attraction for visitors are 4 mummies, one of which is said to be the remains of a nun. The mummies lie in 4 open coffins and it is said that the atmospheric conditions of the limestone lined church caused the mummification process, preserving their bodies.

Saint Michans mummies in Dublin