Not such a tall story - the Portrush Giantess who was a seven foot sideshow

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IT’S not a tall story - Portrush really DID once have a giantess.

Mary Murphy was nearly seven foot high.

She was born in Portrush around 1670 and was said to be very beautiful.

Her fascinating story is just one of a number unearthed during ‘the Council’’s Coleraine400’ (C400) plantation project.

Many men wanted to marry her and she turned them all down but one a French sea captain whose ship docked in Portrush. They married, and Mary’s husband exhibited her at side shows.

Although the expectations of world travel may have been part of the attraction, the reality of being an exhibit may not have been too positive.

Sadly, it is thought that he later abandoned her as she was last seen at a show in Paris, on her own.

In the 17th century roads were poor or non-existent so people travelled by ship or boat. Rivers and the sea were the gateway to the world.

Harbours and quays gave access to towns and cities, and enabled the export and import of goods. The Coleraine town Charter enabled residents to import and export their goods and the influx of ships ensured that happened.

Gold, fish, cloth were just some of the items coming in and going out of the area, while also providing a vehicle for local residents to travel the world and come back with their stories.

Don’t miss the Coleraine 400 Plantation Exhibition at Coleraine Town Hall.

This week’s Dr Bob

Curran column is on p28