Dublin city centre is well-signed as far as landmarks go – there are arrows everywhere. While heading over for the Jameson whisky tour (more on that in another post), I found myself early by more than an hour. This is because, for no good reason, my phone refused to update to Dublin time, even though it had figured out that I was previously in Frankfurt. It stubbornly remained on Frankfurt time the first day there. My tour didn’t start until 3:00pm (15:00). So I walked around, following signs to St Michan’s Church which was up a set of stone steps. I didn’t know what to expect.
The grounds had gravestones and stone crypts surrounding the church, which wasn’t open. I walked through, looking at the stones whose names had long worn away. There was moss and dark grey stone, marking the spot where someone was buried. A life not completely forgotten, but the name was not remembered. So many were that way.
As I was looking at a stone crypt, I realized there were a few people in sleeping bags having a nap on the shady side. Funny, my first instinct was not to make sure I did not wake them up. Suddenly it occurred to me as if I was in their bedroom, like I was the intruder. I walked past quickly towards the church.
Around the outside of the church, there were many sets of iron double doors. They looked like the doors outside pubs and bars where the beer kegs get delivered – the kind that open and slide right into the basement. I went closer to them and saw the signs – they were crypts. Both doors were closed, so I opened the one below. It was incredibly heavy when I grabbed the handle and opened it. I had to brace my body against the weight of it. As you might imagine, it creaked with a rusty song as it opened. It clanged resolutely when I placed it on the metal post that held it open. I looked into the darkness. I took out my phone and shone a light into the crypt.
There were white-painted, rough stone stairs going down and bending to the right. The inside was painted white. About 12 steps down was a locked iron grate door, like a prison door. The steps kept winding to the right out of sight. I looked down the stairs and considered. What would the crypt look like? I did want to see. Really I did.
But that door was heavy. There were 12 steps down. I’d be down in the darkness and someone would close the door behind me. Judging by its weight, I’d have a hell of a time pushing it open from the inside. If the person didn’t also lock me into the darkness to face what was in the crypt. Or maybe more to the point, who was in it . Whose bones were they? It didn’t say on the outside.
I’d be trapped, terrified, alone, bracing myself for whatever demon, ghost, dead saint, or holy person had died and was laid to rest that decided this would be a good time to no longer be resting. I’ve seen exactly enough horror movies to know this is how it all begins. Maybe a zombie.
So I closed the crypt. I walked backwards quickly. I even opened other crypt and did the same thing.
I stand by my decision.
However, if you find yourself at this church and do brave the steps, let me know what’s in there. I’m still very curious but not enough to go it alone.
Mind the steps, too. They’re uneven as the sign says.