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Updated: Jun 9, 2023

Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he may find new blood and spread his undead curse, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women known as the Crew of Light, led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. The novel touches on themes such as the role of women in Victorian culture, sexual conventions, immigration, colonialism, and post-colonialism. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, comic book, film and television interpretations.




Scholars have suggested that Bram Stoker knew about the Mercy Brown case through newspaper articles and so based the novel's character, Lucy Westenra, upon her.

Oh, the terrible struggle that I have had against sleep so often of late; the pain of the sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, and with such unknown horror as it has for me! How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams. - Bram Stoker ~ Dracula




This wonderful church dates from 1686, but the first Christian chapel on this site dated from 1095. The church is known for its vaults, which contain a number of mummified remains. It is believed that a young Bram Stoker visited these crypts in the mid-1800's and that in doing so inspired some of the writings within his book Dracula.

​Our awesome guide led us to a rusty trap door which revealed some very steep, uneven stone steps that we descended very carefully. Once inside, the temperature instantly drops, the air is dry and everything is covered in a layer of dust. We were told that that the chambers here are technically active, meaning that the families who own the vaults would be free to use them again whenever they want too. Now that is pretty cool!

The first vault we were shown houses a collection of stacked coffins. The death mask of Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone which was cast in 1798 after his death can be seen on display as well as the grim execution order for the legendary Sheares brothers, calling for them to be not only hanged, but gutted and burned in public.

On the far right of the crypt an illuminated room is home to three open coffins containing human remains, ageing between 150 and 800 years old. A constant temperature, humidity-absorbing limestone and methane gas released by the land is responsible for the odd natural preservation here, but there are some body parts that can be seen missing. Some of them lost feet either because they were simply too tall for standardized coffins, or as punishment for a reformed criminal. One of the figures is believed to have been a nun who lived to 100 years of age, and if you look closely you can see that her toes and toenails are virtually intact.

Because of how the coffins were stacked here, the weight of the ones on top caused the ones underneath to buckle and break, they think this is how the mummies were discovered initially as it is illegal to open coffins.

It's very easy to imagine how these visual elements of the crypts could have fueled Stoker's imagination with the macabre and inspired his gothic story, but actual proof of his presence at the crypts is very difficult to find. In 2011, Bram Stoker's personal journal was discovered in his great-grandson's attic on the Isle of Wight and was published in 2012 to mark 100 years since his death. The entries give an insight into his life in Dublin from 1871, but contained very few hints at how his Dracula characters came about.

You can also watch a video of our visit to St. Michan's via our YouTube Channel...




This magnificently decorated 18th century mansion, in the North City Centre of Dublin, houses some original letters and books of Bram Stoker. Obviously, Dracula makes an appearance. This museum is well worth a visit when in Dublin.

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