Bellaghy Historical Society
April 12th, 2011
Brendan Holland: Irish Giants and Gigantism
1735, Ordinance Survey of Derry found evidence of giants. At Ballymahon Mór Hill
(Killyeoin-J. Henryʼs yard, Magherafelt), is the oldest burial ground in Ireland registered in
Rome. late 17th century/early 18th century, a limestone yard was discovered beneath the
burial ground. Bones/oak coffin woods/rings of brass & tin were found-it is hoped funding
will be available to recover these bones to test/verify DNA for gigantism.
1834, Ireland was one of the first countries ever to be surveyed for acromegaly
It was found that the number of giant (very tall people) graves was phenomenal, especially
in South Derry and in east Tyrone.
300 years ago the average height of man was 5ʼ6; anyone over 6ʼ was considered a giant.
100 years ago, anyone over 6ʼ5 was considered a giant.
Now, anyone over 7ʼ is considered a giant.
1896, Pierre Marie-benign tumor on the pituitary gland, causing spurts of growth
(gigantism); spatial awareness impaired.
Cornelius Mc Grath, 7ʼ5 skeleton in trinity College, Dublin.
Charles Byrne of Drumullin, Lough Neagh, 7ʼ7. Earned £700 a year in London exhibiting
himself. Died 1781 of excessive drinking, aged 22. Skeleton put on display in London; is
now at Royal College of Physicians.
Familial Isolated Pituitary Aduoma, published an article in the new England Journal of
Medicine that Brendan Holland is related to Charles Byrne.