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12th Jun 2024

Outcry as 5 mummies destroyed in St Michan’s Church crypt fire


The remains include an 800-year-old mummy known as ‘The Crusader’ and four others dating back 400 years.

There has been outcry across the capital this morning as the mummified remains of five people were destroyed in a fire. The fire took place in the crypt of Michan’s Church of Ireland, on Church Street, a popular tourist destination. According to RTE News, a man has been arrested concerning the fire under the Criminal Damage Act and is currently being questioned in relation to the alleged offence, which is believed to have occurred at 4pm on Tuesday, June 11th.

The alarm was raised by a tour guide who detected smoke in the vault of the building. Dublin Fire Brigade treated the fire before it took hold and the area was made safe, Gardaí say no injuries have been reported.

According to the publication, the mummified remains held in the crypt are believed to have been “destroyed” by the water that was required to put the fire out, it is estimated there is around 30cm of water in the crypt.

The scene has been sealed off to facilitate a forensic examination by a team from the Garda Technical Bureau. Gardaí are appealing to any witnesses or to anyone with any information about the incident to contact them.

Known as the ‘St Michan’s mummies’, the most well-known of which are the ‘big four’ who are displayed together with no lids on their coffins. They are made up of the Unknown, the Thief, the Nun and the Crusader. One of them, six-and-a-half foot tall, is believed to have been a soldier who returned from the Crusades. 800 years ago, his height would have made him a veritable giant. He lies with his legs broken under him apparently to fit him in the coffin, and with one of his hands slightly stretched into the air, legend has it that those who touch his finger will have good fortune.

This is unfortunately not the first time that the mummified remains have been impacted, back in February 2019, ‘The Crusader’ was decapitated during a break-in at the crypt. For a time the church tour was stopped until the head was retrieved and the culprit jailed for five counts of criminal damage, including two of damaging a dead body.

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