James Kirkland (Irish giant)

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Portrait of James Kirkland

James Kirkland (fl. 1730) was an Irish giant and a member of the Potsdam Giants who served under Frederick William I of Prussia, known as the “Soldier King”. He was 217 centimetres (7 feet 1 inch) tall, and was a native of Ballygar, Ardagh, County Longford.

Kirkland was in 1730 a footman to Baron Borck, at the time Prussian Ambassador to London. Borck, however, did not really need a footman, and had Kirkland forcibly impressed upon a Prussian ship at Portsmouth, where he was press-ganged into the Potsdam Guards.

It is claimed that he was accompanied in the regiment by other tall soldiers from Ireland. One of his fellow soldiers was the poet, Tomás Ó Caiside (c.1709–1773?).

A portrait of Kirkland survives.

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