Item # 538980
BOSTON GAZETTE, Massachusetts, September 20, 1804
* Charles Byrne
* O'Brien 'The Irish Giant'
Listed among the page 2 Deaths is one reading: "In Ireland, OBrien, the famous Irish Giant, he gave permission for his skeleton to be prepared for the College Museum, Dublin. One source states that this was Patrick Cotter OBrien, said to be 8 feet 4 inches."
Other news of the day with many advertisements. Occasional foxing, otherwise in nice condition.
source: wikipedia: Charles Byrne (1761 – 1783) also known as Charles O'Brien or "The Irish Giant", was a human curiosity or freak in London in the 1780s.
His exact height is of some conjecture, but most accounts refer to him as from 8'-2" to 8'-4" tall. At the age of 21 he left his home in Ireland and traveled to London to seek his fortune. He found work at Cox's Museum, an establishment not unlike P. T. Barnum's American Museum. He moved in next door in an elegant apartment at the cane-shop, in Spring Garden-gate.
He soon became the toast of the town, a May 6, 1782, newspaper report bears out: "However striking a curiosity may be, there is generally some difficulty in engaging the attention of the public; but even this was not the case with the modern living Colossus, or wonderful Irish Giant"
Fame and wealth soon overtook him, and he took to drinking excessively. According to newspaper reports he was out drinking when his pocket was picked of his 700 pound life savings. Inconsolable, he tried to drown his sorrows in drink and died June, 1783, in his apartment on Cockspurstreet, Charing Cross, at the age of twenty-two.
It was rumored that he was so afraid that Doctors would dissect his corpse that on his deathbed he requested to be buried at sea. Against his wishes, Byrne's corpse was purchased by John Hunter for five hundred pounds, and his 7'-7" skeleton now resides in the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.
Author Hilary Mantel wrote a fictionalized novel of his life in THE GIANT, O'BRIEN. The plot of the novel focused between the battle between the revolution of science and the ways of poem and song. O'Brien (Byrne) was portrayed as a man whose faith was in tales of kings and the little people, while his polar opposite John Hunter portrayed the dawn of the scientific age, destroying all that is old and cherished. In a sense of irony, this novel mirrors the history of mankind as technology seems to replace humanity.
The book also mentions that O'Brien (Byrne) was related to another Irish giant in Patrick Cotter O'Brien of Cork, Ireland. Patrick Cotter O'Brien also exhibited himself in Ireland shortly after the death of Charles, stating that he was 8'7" in height. An exhumation of his bones in 1972 shown that his true height was a still remarkable 8'1", though if skin and muscles were on the frame it is quite possible that he much taller than that.
The book also mentions a sort of kinship with two other Irish giants known simply as 'The Brothers Knipe' who both stood 7'2" each. They are/were recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest identical twins in history.
Category: Pre-Civil War