A seven-foot seven-inch skeleton – the remains of Charles Byrne, the so-called 'Irish Giant' from the 18th century – is to be removed from public display at the Hunterian Museum in London.

Mr Byrne, whose real name was Charles O'Brien, was a celebrity when he died in 1783.

Originally from mid-Ulster, his body was acquired in controversial circumstances by the surgeon John Hunter.

The skeleton had been on display for almost 250 years, but was recently the subject of a campaign to have it removed from public view.

In a statement today, the Hunterian said the remains would not be returned to public display when the museum opens in March following renovations, but will be available for medical research.

Brendan Holland, a distant relative of Charles Byrne, said it was the right decision.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Holland – who has the same condition that Charles had – said a DNA sample was done on two of Mr Byrne’s teeth, and this determined that they were related and had the same condition.

He said he is in favour of the skeleton continuing to be used for medical research.

"We can’t do anything for dead people but we can help those who are alive and have this condition," he said.

"It’s particularly prevalent in the area I live in, in east Tyrone and south Derry."

Mr Holland said Charles grew "at a phenomenal rate" and was taller than his mother by the time he was nine years old.

He said he believes that Charles "may have grown even taller" if he had lived longer.

The Hunterian Museum, which includes England's largest public display of human anatomy, will reopen to the public in March after a five-year refurbishment.

Mr Byrne's skeleton was the best-known artefact in the collection, according to the museum, which explained that he had lived with an undiagnosed benign tumour of his pituitary gland, an adenoma, which caused acromegaly and gigantism.

A statement from the museum said: "During the period of closure of the Museum, the Board of Trustees of the Hunterian Collection discussed the sensitivities and the differing views surrounding the display and retention of Charles Byrne’s skeleton.

"The Trustees agreed that Charles Byrne’s skeleton will not be displayed in the redeveloped Hunterian Museum but will still be available for bona fide medical research into the condition of pituitary acromegaly and gigantism."