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Irish Giant

Patrick Cotter  1760 - September 18, 1806) was born in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland and was first of only twelve people in medical history to stand at a verified height of eight feet or more.  Cotter adopted O'Brien as his stage name and appeared as 'O'Brien, the Irish Giant' and took on the performing name of 'Patrick O'Brien'. It appears that the adoption of the name O'Brien was used as a way of pretending descent from Brian Boru who, in the popular imagination of the time, was believed to have been the king of a race of Irish giants.

The first definite evidence of Patrick appearing in public is at the Full Moon tavern in Bristol on the 19th July 1783.  He made his home in Bristol whilst travelling around the country appearing at various theatres and fairs. His career  extended over twenty years until 1804 when he decided he had made enough money to retire to Clifton in Bristol.

Patrick died at his home in the Hotwells Road, Clifton, on the 8th September 1806 at the age of around forty-five. He left a fortune of some £3,000, most of which went to his mother, Margaret Cotter and was buried in the Roman Catholic chapel in Trenchard Street, Bristol. The funeral was scheduled for six o'clock in the morning in an attempt to avoid attracting a crowd, but despite this precaution over 2,000 people attended and police assistance was required to guard the chapel doors and prevent a crush developing.

This is the inscription on his grave:

Here lie the remains of Mr. Patrick Cotter O'Brien, a native of Kinsale, in the kingdom of Ireland. He was a man of gigantic stature, exceeding eight feet three inches in height, and proportionably large.

Patrick Cotter was friends with Jozef Boruwlaski, a Polish dwarf..

Content generated during research for the paperback book 'Bristol: Ethnic Monorities and the City 1000-2001' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-477-5 ) for the England's Past for Everyone series

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