Mummified remains destroyed in Dublin crypt fire

A man has been arrested after a crypt beneath St Michan's Church of Ireland in Dublin was set on fire.

The vicar of the church told Irish broadcaster RTÉ that five mummified remains were destroyed during the efforts to put the blaze out before it took hold.

The incident on Church Street happened at about 16:30 local time on Tuesday.

Gardaí (Irish police) said the fire was extinguished by Dublin Fire Brigade and the area made safe.

No injuries have been reported at this time.

The scene has been sealed off and a team from the Garda Technical Bureau were carrying out a forensic examination.

Gardaí said a man was arrested in connection with the incident, for an alleged offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1991.

Crypt vandalised in 2019

In February 2019, vandals broke in and decapitated an 800-year-old skeleton known as the Crusader which was interred beneath the church.

The skull and another stolen from the crypt were later recovered.

The crypt was badly damaged in the 2019 break-in and several of the mummies - including the 400-year-old remains of a nun - were desecrated in the incident, according to the Church of Ireland.

The first church on the site is believed to have been established in 1095, but the current church dates back to the 1680s with further renovations taking place between 1723 and 1725, in 1767 and in 1825.

It was restored in 1998.

The vaults contain many mummified remains - as well as the almost 2m (6ft5) skeleton of the Crusader, they include the remains of brothers Henry and John Seares, executed by the English for leading the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

The remains of many of Dublin's most influential 17th, 18th and 19th Century families are also entombed in St Michan's.

The limestone walls of the crypts and atmosphere within them is believed to have helped preserve the remains.

The church's organ is housed within the case of an organ case constructed by John Baptiste Cuvillie around 1725.

Thousands of people visit the church each year.