| 16.4°C Dublin

Scream if you like dinosaurs as Jurassic lark looms

PREPARE to be terrified. The dinosaurs are back ... at least for a 10-day period.

A life-sized baby T-rex paid a surprise visit to some Dublin schoolchildren yesterday and gave them all a fright to remember.

An arena show based on the hit BBC series 'Walking with Dinosaurs' is taking to the Odyssey in Belfast and the O2 in Dublin later this month, after wooing audiences across the UK.

And fourth-class pupils at St Joseph's Co-Ed in Dublin's East Wall visited the O2 to get a sneak preview yesterday.

But they didn't expect to be greeted by the lifelike dinosaur, which peeked its head out from a warehouse door, provoking a few screams.

Ten-year-old Justin Dawson was closest to the T-rex when it made its ominous entrance.

"It was real scary. He almost hit me in the head so I had to duck down," he said.

"The best thing about it, it was really fun. It was great. We all had good fun. We all enjoyed it.

"All I heard was people screaming: 'The dinosaur, the dinosaur'."

Tadgh Reid, who turns 10 in October, admitted to being more than a little frightened.

"It was really scary. I thought 'what was this?', and then everybody screamed and then I turned around and there was a dinosaur staring at me," he said.

"He looked so realistic. Our school is going to be getting tickets for it, but hopefully they won't be front row seats!"

The baby T-rex swung its tail, chased the children and, despite his menacing appearance, provoked a lot of laughs and smiles.

Michael Tient (10), from Marino, said the students were all hard at work that morning reading up on dinosaurs with their teacher, Jennifer Haughton.

"I was really scared. The weird thing about it was I thought it was a robot, as it looked real. It was kind of weird," Michael said.

The cast includes an allosaurus, a torosaurus and a stegosaurus which are designed with a light net fabric, lycra and paint.

The largest among them, the brachiosaurus, is about 70ft. It has a driver at the bottom of it, but its movements are controlled remotely by puppeteers.

The show features about 20 dinosaurs in all. Neal Holmes, who operates the baby T-rex, said it takes quite a bit of training to maintain the role.

"We do a lot of physical training to keep up to par with the show standard. So we're constantly keeping on top of our fitness," he said.

Two levers control every movement, while a games console-style box allows the animatronic creature to make yelps or roars.

The show will run in the Odyssey in Belfast between September 14 and 16, and the O2 from September 19 to September 23.

Irish Independent