St. Michan’s Church is situated on Church Street behind Dublin’s Four Courts and near the old city fruit and vegetable markets. St. Michan’s church is the oldest parish church on the north side of the river Liffey.
Originally founded in 1095 (as an early Danish chapel), the present church dates from 1685 and was renovated in 1825. Internally the church retains its original galleried interior and organ. The interior is little changed since Victorian times. The pulpit, now displayed at the back of the church, was commissioned from Christopher Stephens in February 1724. The staircase dates from 1724. Another remarkable survival is the ‘oak moving desk’ or ‘Penitents desk’. Used for public confession, it was commissioned in 1724.
The delightfully decorated organ was built by John Baptiste Cuvillie between 1723-1725. In front of the gallery is the ‘Organ Trophy’, a piece of wood depicting 17 musical instruments, possibly carved by Henry Houghton or John Houghton. The ‘Trophy’ was installed in 1724. Legend has it that Handel practised for the first performance of the ‘Messiah’ on this organ.
Underneath the church are five long burial vaults containing the mummified remains of many of Dublin’s most influential 17th, 18th and 19th century families, including the legendary Shears brothers and the highly decorated coffins of the Earls of Leitrim. The constant dry atmosphere has caused the mummification of the bodies and the preservation of the coffins. Since Victorian times visitors have descended the vault steps to see the mummies; Bram Stoker, creator of the ‘Dracula’ stories, is believed to have visited. In one vault can be seen the remains of the “Crusader”, though in fact he is only 650 years dead.
Apr to Oct: Mon to Fri, 10am – 12.30pm & 2pm – 4.30pm
Nov to Mar: Mon to Fri, 12.30pm – 3.30pm
Sat (all year round): 10am – 12.30pm
No tours on Sundays or Bank Holidays.
Closed: Easter weekend (Friday-Monday), 23 Dec to 1 Jan
No booking required; tours ongoing during opening hours.