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    St. Michan's ChurchSt. Michan's Church Dublin, Ireland
    This church, in Dublin, Ireland, is now a Church of Ireland church, but was constructed on the site of an early Dutch chapel that had been constructed in 1095 AD, although the current building would be from a reconstructed church in 1686, and believed to be the only parish church located on the north side of Liffey that survived its Viking foundation. The vaults of the church contain many mummified remains, since the walls in the vaults were created from limestone, that kept the atmosphere dry and the perfect conditions necessary of mummification. Some of these remains includes a 400 year old nun, the Sheares brothers, John and Henry, that had taken part in the 1798 rebellion and a man's remains that is thought to be that of a former crusade that stood about six and a half feet tall, with the feet and right hand severed. Also interred here are those people that had held the title of Earl of Kenmare, and the church still holds services here on Sundays, so it is closed to visitors. The church's organ is one of the oldest in the nation, still in use and it is thought that George F. Handel would use it to compose The Messiah. One panel on the organ, that had been carved from a single block of wood, showcases a number of musical instruments in high relief, with a penitent's stool, a chalice from the 16th century and an 18th century pulpit and font are some of the other outstanding relics located here. The vaults, however, seem to be the most interesting part of the church to many visitors, that access the vaults through a narrow stone stairway, where a tunnel opens and is lined with limestone and mortar that extends down the long narrow tunnel with small niches for coffins on each side. Some of these are private and kept that way with wooden or iron doors, while the remainder are open. In others, with iron bars across the front, the coffins are viewed lying in a strange fashion, some bursting apart at the seams or joints with an arm or leg protruding out, with one of the open chambers lying the grisly remains of contents that have been sought by many previous visitors long ago; the Big Four. These caskets have no tops, with the exposed bodies covered by a tight, leathery skin, that is covered in a thick layer of dust. There are 3 coffins across the front, with a woman on the right, the crusader without feet and hand, with some accusing the deceased of being a robber, but others saying because of his size, his feet had to be cut off so he could fit in the coffin, and a nun on the left.

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    National Museum of Ireland-Natural HistoryNational Museum of Ireland - Natural History Dublin, Ireland
    The Irish Natural History museum in Dublin, Ireland has been referred to as the Dead Zoo, is a branch of the National Museum of Ireland, constructed in 1856 to house portions of the collection of the Royal Dublin Society that would later be given to the state. It collections and structure haven't changed much since the Victorian period, so often called the museum of museums, with a bronze statue of Surgeon-General Thomas Heazle Parke standing at the front entrance. The ground floor houses the Irish Room, that exhibits Irish indigenous animals, but most noteworthy is the numerous mounted giant Irish deer. There are a few skulls of these ancient animals and other deer that line the walls, with many specimens not shown. There are many stuffed and mounted birds, fish, mammals and insects, as well as other native animals found in this country, that occupy the remainder of the hall. There are numerous extant specimens that includes; foxes, hares and badgers, that are more than a century old, with a Basking shark hanging from the ceiling. The next floor houses the Lower Gallery, with mammals from across the globe, including endangered or extant species that include a quagga, pygmy hippopotamus and thylacine. The four galleries above contain balconied rails around the walls, that showcase more primitive animals, from reptiles to fish to birds to invertebrates and microbes. The second floor ceiling has a humpback whale hanging from its ceiling, and contains a dodo skeleton from Mauritius. The entire collection is unique in scope and range, as well as age, so the displays are arranged by age, with faded and worn pelts and visible marks from the bullets that killed them and the rough taxidermy work. Bigger exhibits are shown in large wood-framed glass cases while the smaller ones are contained under glass, necessary to preserve them from light. This building constructed to house the society's growing collections, would have to continue to enlarge, since the 18th century, especially after the society purchased the biggest natural history collection in Europe from Nathaniel Gottfried Leske in 1792. It is a cabinet style museum that had been designed to display the wide-ranging and inclusive zoological collections, with over 10,000 exhibits to offer a glimpse into the natural world that has and continues to delight generations of visitors.

May 9, 2011