Parish Vicar David Pierpoint suspects that attack on St. Michan’s church was planned

Entrance to the crypt following the desecration
photo credit: Utd dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough

Parish Vicar David Pierpoint feels that the attack on St. Michan’s church was planned.

Archdeacon of Dublin and parish vicar David Pierpoint has revealed that the break-in in St Michan’s Church was not simply vandalism.

Pierpoint initially told press after the late-February attack that the incident was “possible vandalism”. However, a day later, he said it was believed to be a planned attack on the crypt.

“Having reflected on it during the night it would appear that whoever got into the vault came prepared to do damage,” he said.

On Monday, February 25th, a tour guide discovered that the crypt had been tampered with as they prepared to open it for visitors.

The vault itself had been significantly damaged and several mummies had been desecrated. The head of an 800-year-old mummy known as ‘The Crusader’ had been stolen and his body had been turned over. His bones had also been scattered outside of the coffin.

The body of a nun who has been in the crypt for 400 years had been moved around, along with the body of another person. The family vault of William Rowan Hamilton, 19th-century mathematician who paved the way for quantum theory, was also broken into by the perpetrators.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson expressed his disgust at the incident, admitting that he was “shocked” on hearing it. “Not only have these individuals desecrated the sacred crypt, but they have destroyed these historic mummies which have been preserved in St Michan’s for hundreds of years.”

Jackson also thanked the parish of the church in Dublin 7 for their compassion during this time. “I would like to thank all members of the community for their support and appeal to them to keep their eyes open in case the head of the Crusader has been dumped.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin and Assistant Garda Commissioner Pat Leahy joined Jackson at the site of the incident where they surveyed the destruction. Martin described it as being “an offence against the city”.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Janice Boylan said that she was “appalled” to hear of the incident and called for those responsible to “cop on”. She also recalled the fact that a similar incident happened over two decades ago.

“This happened before in the 1990s and those responsible were brought to justice then so let’s hope those responsible today will be too,” she said.

A representative from the Garda Press Office estimated that the incident occurred between the night of Saturday 23rd and the morning of Sunday 24th February 2019. They are still investigating the crime and are yet to make any arrests.

The church is open to parishioners for usual services, but will be closed for tourists for the foreseeable future.

Pierpoint described it as a “sad day” for not only Dublin, but the whole country as the vault is home to many of the 1798 rebels, such as John and Henry Sheares, Robert Emmet, the death mask of Theobald Wolfe Tone along with many other historical figures.

“It’s a loss to the city and a loss to the country having to close because it’s a very valuable artifact. It’s a very valuable historical site.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Bridewell Garda Station on 01 666 8200.

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