Why the Irish giant’s skeleton remains a bone of contention

In a piece picked up in both the Daily Telegraph and the Irish Independent (though the version in the Telegraph is longer), Dalrymple asks, “Is it time to honour the last wishes of Charles Byrne, whose skeleton stands in the Hunterian Museum?”
The Victorians did not conceal their prurience about what they did not hesitate to call freaks; they exhibited them in circuses and fairs (from which they derived an income, sometimes a large income); after their death, they pickled them, or parts of them, in bottles, or boiled them down for their skeletons.
Pathology museums everywhere in the country have their share of the anomalies that nature throws up. The Georgians and Victorians would probably have viewed our squeamishness with regard to these matters as symptomatic of our refusal to face an aspect of reality, a hypocritical desire to avert our eyes from the unpleasant.
The controversy now being stirred up about the skeleton of Charles Byrne, the Irish Giant, on display in the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, would have struck them as absurd and a sign of over-refinement.
H/t Colin and Damo

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