Friday 6 December 2019

Fee-fi-fo-fum: Giant captivates 150,000-strong crowd

Granny makes her way along Clancy Strand.
Granny makes her way along Clancy Strand.
Royal de Luxe Lilliputian troupe The Royal de Luxe Lilliputians help the granny along her journey in Limerick. Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
5/9/14 REPRO FREE Royal de Luxe Lilliputian troupe The Royal de Luxe Lilliputians help the granny along her journey in Limerick. Limerick City will achieved climatic cultural high when it's headline event of the year Royal de Luxe, The Giant's Journey for three whole days an in the city as part of the Limerick City of Culture. Pic Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
The Royal de Luxe Granny arrives by trian at Colbert Station in Limerick. Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.

Kathryn Hayes

It was the best weekend an 85-year-old could ever wish for - and it isn't over yet.

Make no mistake about it, the visiting giant pensioner captivated the hearts and imaginations of over 150,000 people who came to experience the highlight of Limerick's year as City of Culture.

The 25-foot grandmother gate-crashed an Irish wedding, drank whiskey and smoked in the army barracks, and even managed to relieve herself in front of the city's top brass Gardai without ending up in the local court house.

And much to the delight of all the stretched mothers and fathers who came to see her at King John's Castle, the towering Marionette also managed to have a word in the ear of the Minister for Finance about lowering taxes in next month's budget.

Performers from the French arts group Royal de Luxe adjust the spectacles of their giant grandmother puppet
Performers from the French arts group Royal de Luxe adjust the spectacles of their giant grandmother puppet
'The Giant's Journey' kicked off for three whole days in the city as part of the Limerick City of Culture. Photo: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
Some 27 Lilliputians were tasked with moving the 25-foot Giant Grandmother. Pic Sean Curtin Photo.
More than 60,000 people attended the first of the three day street extravaganza. Photo: Pic Sean Curtin Photo.
'The Giant's Journey'. Photo: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
'The Giant's Journey' is the headline event of this year's Royal de Luxe. Photo: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
Royal de Luxe Lilliputian troupe The Royal de Luxe Lilliputians, wishers in Grannys ear along her journey in Limerick.
The Royal de Luxe Granny arrives by trian at Colbert Station in Limerick. Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Royal de Luxe Lilliputian troupe The Royal de Luxe Lilliputians help the granny along her journey in Limerick. Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Checking out giant footprints on O'Connell Street were Ava Bourke O'Connell, 4, Hyde Road, Limerick and her Grandmother Rita McNamara, Garryowen, Limerick. Picture: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Passers-by walk past giant footprints O'Connell St. Limerick. Standing in the footprints of giants on O'Connell Street - Ava Bourke O'Connell, 4, Hyde Road, Limerick. Picture credit: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
A wall of car head lights was built in Russell Park to welcome the Royal de Luxe Granny to Limerick. Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Royal de Luxe Lilliputian troupe The Royal de Luxe Lilliputians help the granny along her journey in Limerick. Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
5/9/14 REPRO FREE Grannys from Oxfam Limerick get into high spirits awaiting the Royal De Luxe Granny. Limerick City will achieved climatic cultural high when it's headline event of the year Royal de Luxe, The Giant's Journey for three whole days an in the city as part of the Limerick City of Culture. Pic Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.
Grannys from Oxfam Limerick get into high spirits awaiting the Royal De Luxe Granny. Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
5/9/14 REPRO FREE Royal de Luxe Lilliputian troupe The Royal de Luxe Lilliputians help the granny along her journey in Limerick. Limerick City will achieved climatic cultural high when it's headline event of the year Royal de Luxe, The Giant's Journey for three whole days an in the city as part of the Limerick City of Culture. Pic Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.
Royal de Luxe Lilliputian troupe The Royal de Luxe Lilliputians help the granny along her journey in Limerick. Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City gears up for Royal de Luxe. The Hook & Ladder Cafe, have created a giant cake of Granny helping to raise funds for Pieta House. Posing with the giant cake at Hook and Lader were, Gardai, Sinead Galvin, Esther Stokes and Louise Jorddan all stationed at Henry Street Garda Station, Limerick. Picture: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
Limerick City gears up for Royal de Luxe. The Hook & Ladder Cafe, have created a giant cake of Granny helping to raise funds for Pieta House. Checking the giant cake out in Hook & Ladder was Ava Fox, 3, Larkins Cross, Co. Clare. Picture: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
Limerick City gears up for Royal de Luxe. The Hook & Ladder Cafe, have created a giant cake of Granny helping to raise funds for Pieta House. Checking the giant cake out in Hook & Ladder was Ava Fox, 3, Larkins Cross, Co. Clare with her Grandmother Toni Fox, Dublin. Picture: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
04.09.14 Limerick City gears up for Royal de Luxe. The Hook & Ladder Cafe, have created a giant cake of Granny helping to raise funds for Pieta House. Checking the giant cake out in Hook & Ladder was Ava Fox, 3, Larkins Cross, Co. Clare. Picture: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
04.09.14 Limerick City gears up for Royal de Luxe. The Hook & Ladder Cafe, have created a giant cake of Granny helping to raise funds for Pieta House. Checking the giant cake out in Hook & Ladder was Ava Fox, 3, Larkins Cross, Co. Clare. Picture: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
A wall of car head lights was built in Russell Park to welcome the Royal de Luxe Granny to Limerick. Pic Sean Curtin Photo.
A wall of car head lights was built in Russell Park to welcome the Royal de Luxe Granny to Limerick. Pic Sean Curtin Photo.
A wall of car head lights was built in Russell Park to welcome the Royal de Luxe Granny to Limerick. Pic Sean Curtin Photo.
Limerick City gears up for Royal de Luxe. Passers-by walk past giant footprints O'Connell St. Limerick. Picture: Alan Place/FusionShooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.
Limerick City of Culture 2014: Headline event of the year, 'Royal de Luxe' - The Giant's Journey - arrives for three days into the city. Photo credit: Sean Curtin, Fusionshooters.

"She smiled and she said 'take it easy Michael'. Good job I understood the French!" joked Michael Noonan.

The Minister for Finance had a bird's eye view of the giant walking through his native city when he watched her from the highest turret in King John's Castle.

"I can understand now why when people see her, everybody smiles. And they are smiling from the oldest person on the street down to the youngest kids," he added.

The fascination with Grandma Giant - who is carefully manoeuvred by a dedicated team of 27 Lilliputians - has attracted visitors from across the world to Limerick this weekend for the Royal de Luxe street theatre extravaganza.

An estimated 100,000 people saw the giant yesterday and followed her as she moved through the city passing some of its most iconic landmarks.

And as promised there were plenty of surprises, especially when the story-telling grandmother, who is half Irish and half Breton, stopped for a giant pee in the middle of O'Connell Street.

An estimated 50,000 people were waiting in anticipation in Sarsfield Barracks from early morning to watch her awaken from her deep slumber in a gigantic wooden bed, where she slept overnight.

As she gradually arose and shuffled towards her cane, her helpers gently guided her to her wheelchair where she sipped on a giant hip-flask of whiskey while occasionally puffing on her clay pipe.

Newly weds Adrian Kiely and Sinead Cusack had a wedding day they will never forget after they were given a Garda escort to their hotel reception - and got a photo with the giant granny.

"It was amazing, very exciting. It was like being in a movie," said the new bride.

Thousands and thousands of spectators lined the streets from early morning yesterday to secure a prime viewing spots.

"She is just magical and it was so worth the three-hour drive we took from Dingle to get here," said Niamh Ui She who watched the giant granny with her two-year-old son Jeaic.

During her three-day visit the 85-year-old granny read myths and legends about Limerick city in her own dialect and translated by well-known Irish actor Louis Lovett.

"I thought she was fantastic and so real-looking - especially her eyes, it was as if she was looking at you. It was just magical," said Adrienne Dunne from Tullamore.

Despite its rocky start, City of Culture has finally staged its biggest event but it's hoped the €1m price tag will more than pay off in the long-term legacy for the city.

"This was an enormous challenge for the city and all the agencies involved but everybody has responded to the highest degree. To see the city as a pedestrianised city is perhaps something we will all learn from," said Conn Murray, Limerick City and County Manager.

City of Culture boss Mike Fitzpatrick, who was brought in to steer the direction of the year-long programme, said the feedback from the Royal de Luxe French Theatre extravaganza has been "overwhelmingly positive". "The giant has certainly put Limerick on the map both at home in Ireland and internationally," he said.

In order to avoid disappointment, organisers have advised anyone planning to see the Grandma Giant today to allow an extra hour to their journey.

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