Handshake with a Mummy

30 Jan

I have stumbled upon many interesting things in the three weeks that I have been in Dublin. I was (and still am) excited about experiencing and seeing things abroad that I would not have back in the states. I expected to see many of the tourist attractions (St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Guinness Storehouse). What I did not expect was to see dead people…

In the heart of Dublin there is the first Parish church north of the River Liffey, St. Michan’s Church. The old Viking church was originally founded in 1095, with a current building that was constructed in 1686. I was taken to his church as part of a trip for business students studying abroad without knowing anything about it. My first thoughts about the church were, “this is cute. That stained glass is pretty. This church seems pretty ordinary to schedule a tour for over 40 people.” After the initial walk around the church, we all sat down in the pews and were waiting to go. Then a cute old man walked in and started telling us about the mummies in the crypts underneath the church. Needless to say, we were all shocked to hear this and our visit to St. Michan’s Church suddenly made sense.

Lying beneath the church are five burial vaults containing some of Dublin’s wealthiest families dating back to the 1600s. The crypts are made of limestone and kept very cold so the mummies are still in great condition. We were allowed to go into two of the five vaults. In the first crypt, there are four mummies in open caskets. In the front is a nun on the left, a man with one hand and both feet cut off in the center, and a woman on the right. The man may have been a thief or simply too big to fit in the casket. Lying across the top was another mummy and highlight of the trip. I surprised myself by taking up the offer to “shake” the hand of this said to be Crusader and 800 year-old mummy for good luck. The second crypt contains the remains of the Sheare brothers who were brutally executed by the British. My trip to St. Michan’s Church was surprising to say the least. I definitely will not forget the time I touched and 800 year-old’s hand!

saint-michans-mummy

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