Trinity College Dublin claim that they have no immediate plans to release the skeleton of a giant, born in March 1736, near the Silvermines, Nenagh, Co Tipperary to assist in his burial.
Cornelius Magrath who suffered from gigantism was 7ft 3in tall when he died in 1760. Legend recalls that Trinity students stole his body the day he died and it has been kept at the University ever since.
Of course body snatching was a lucrative business back in the 18th century and those who were involved were often called “resurrectionists” or “resurrection-men”, who often benefited on the double, stealing personal effects from the corpses sold on for dissection or anatomy lectures in medical schools. Because the only bodies legally available for medical dissection back then were the remains of executed criminals, demand soon outpacing supply.
Such body snatching activity possibly lends itself to the use of the phrase “The Graveyard Shift”. Graveyards started running out of places to bury people. So coffins were often dug up and bones sent to a “bone-house” allowing for the reuse of grave space. When opening such coffins, it was discovered that a considerable number were found to have scratch marks on the inside lid, confirming that individuals were being burying alive. Based on this evidence it was agreed that a piece of string be tied to the wrist of certain corpses; to be lead through the coffin and up through the ground before being tied to a bell. An individual would sit out in the graveyard all night (the “graveyard shift”) to listen for bell; sounds, hence someone could be “saved by the bell” or was considered to be a “dead ringer.”
The Magrath skeleton today is viewed only by those doing research and continues to inspire scholarship through teaching a great many students, scientists, professors and experts studying his disease.
While it is claimed that Tipperary locals are calling on Cornelius’s skeleton to be released for burial; certainly Thurles.Info has heard nothing about it and Trinity College have released a statement also confirming it also had not been approached by any Tipperary individuals who are requesting his burial. The University in the past admits putting Cornelius’s skeleton on public display, but there are no plans for such similar displays into the future; leaving Cornelius to be only visited by medical students or associated groups involved in research or other educational activities.
Looks like our Dublin Media were stuck for front page sensationalism and national debate again.
You can read all about the Tipperary Giant Cornelius Magrath simply by clicking HERE