There’s always an undercurrent of tragedy in Dublin, even if its inhabitants face it with unnerving courage. The capital that has weathered so much turmoil and seen so much bloodshed is candidly in touch with its own history, and it hasn’t shied away from any less-than-settling remembrances of its past. In fact, it’s extremely in touch with its dead. With our guide of crypts, museums, remains, and even literary homages to the dead and undead, you can get closer to the history of Dublin and Ireland than you probably ever wanted.
1. The Archeology branch of the National Museum of Ireland
Ireland’s bogs, apparently, have the most incredible natural powers of preservation. The Archeology branch of the National Museum on Kildaire Street is lucky enough to have four mummies dating back to 400 BC that were excavated from the depth of Ireland’s bogs—at least, they have the greater part of four mummies.
Since throwing bodies into bogs was not the typical way of burying the dearly deceased in the Celtic Iron Age, most people found in the bogs are thought have been disposed of there by their horrifyingly sadistic murderers. As such, the bodies, though well-preserved, are mutilated. One, for example, is decapitated, with everything below the waist cut off. The museum’s description of his death sounds like something directly out of a particularly gory and bizarre Criminal Minds episode:
Although the precise sequence cannot be determined, the deceased was decapitated, had his nipples cut and his thorax severed from his abdomen. The cutting of the nipples is highly significant. Sucking a king’s nipples was an ancient Irish form of submission and the mutilation perpetrated on Oldcroghan Man would have rendered him ineligible for kingship.
Some anthropologists contend that the brutality was all part of a ritualistic sacrifice, which is believed to have involved the death of kings during bad harvests. The bog sacrifices might have been wildly excessive, but they’ve at least enabled us come face-to-face with our past.