1968: Irish Guy Buries Himself Alive On A Whim And Somehow Survives For 61 Days

Everyone wants to be famous, right? Well, maybe not, and most people would definitely not bury themselves alive for over two months to achieve stardom... but not everyone is Mike Meaney.

In 1968, Irishman Mike Meaney decided he would make his dreams of fame come true by breaking the world record for the longest someone has remained buried alive. The Tipperary, Ireland, native based in London was able to stay in his oversized coffin for 61 days - beating the past world record by over two weeks.   

The kicker? No representative from the Guinness Book of World Records was on-site to see Meaney complete the feat. So, despite spending eight weeks underground, he didn't win the official award.


  • Meaney Just Wanted To Be Famous And Didn't Care How He Got There

    Mike Meaney once had dreams of being a boxer. He was reported to have had the "strength of ten men." According to his daughter, Mary, "as a child, he could literally lift a tree and put it on his shoulder." 

    Unfortunately, a work accident left him unable to fulfill his passion of using his strength for fame. Luckily, in the 1960s, being buried alive was apparently a popular thing to do, and Meaney cashed in on the market in order to achieve the fame he always desired. 

  • In America, Another Man Was Attempting The Same Record

    In America, Another Man Was Attempting The Same Record
    Video: YouTube

    It seems Meaney was correct that being buried alive "was all the rage at the time" in 1968. The standing record of 45 days had been achieved earlier that same year. At the same time Meaney was attempting his stunt in London, another man across the pond was racing him for the title, a Texan singer named Bill White. British and American media covered the men's attempts like it was a boxing match. The BBC even broadcasted a "joint interview between the pair" of men. 

    White held out for 55 days, and he would have won the title if not for the ambitious Meaney. Realistically, Meaney could have held the title at 56 days, but he decided to remain in his coffin for 61 days, emerging smiling, healthy, and victorious as can be seen in the video above. 

  • Perhaps The Wildest Part: Meaney Never Told His Wife What He Was Doing

    The huge amount of media attention Meaney received not only contributed to his eventual (albeit short-lived) fame, but it also informed his wife, Alice, of his plans. Their daughter, Mary, said:

    "She found out through the radio. He probably knew the answer would be no. She left him be – I like that fact. She let him off, and said, 'If he wants this.'" According to Mary, Alice Meaney passed the time, "smoking away, waiting for her husband to come home... She just took it in her stride." 

  • Meaney Prepared By Eating A Lot Of Steak And Smoking A Lot

    Meaney was determined to become the world record holder - and that meant training. However, his methods were a bit unconventional. To be fair, there isn't really a set list of ways to train for being buried alive. Meaney decided it meant eating mostly steak and smoking a lot.

    He also practiced exercising in his coffin inside a pub, which he was later airlifted out of in the coffin to prepare for burial.  

  • Meaney Had Actually Been Buried Alive Before, On Accident

    The same workplace accident that ruined Meaney's dreams of being a boxer ironically ended up helping him with his goal of beating the world record.

    A few years before submerging himself seven feet underground for two months, Meaney, a laborer, was buried alive in an accident at work. This awful incident allowed him to understand how to train his mind not to panic during his time underground while he endeavored to achieve the world record.   

  • The Coffin Was Large Enough That Meaney Could Eat, Exercise, And Read The Newspaper - Although No One Knows How He Used The Bathroom

    In order to stay sane, Meaney devised a routine for himself under the earth. He would wake up early - at 7 AM - exercise, and oil up his muscles. Afterward, he would eat breakfast, read the newspaper, and talk to people who came to chat through one of the two pipes situated in the coffin for air and food. Apparently, using the bathroom involved a hatch of some sort, the details of which were never revealed. Maybe Meaney wanted a bit of mystery attached to his stunt.

    Only one incident nearly broke his determination: a heavy truck accidentally rolled back over his "grave," which put a lot of pressure on the earth above him. His daughter said that he considered coming up, but chose to "stick it out" instead.