THE stage is set for the flagship event of City of Culture. The giant has arrived and Limerick is holding its breath.
For culture boss Mike Fitzpatrick, despite the many months of painstaking preparatory work done by an ever expanding logistical team, it remains “a leap of faith” that the public will take Royal de Luxe’s Giant to their hearts and pack the streets of the city in their thousands in two weeks time.
“It is a leap of faith, but I suppose the whole year has been a leap of faith, and we are glad to have a Giant amongst us,” he said. “All of those earlier discussions, long hard hours deciding if this was a good idea or not, eventually you have to have faith and ultimately lots of people will have fun.
“It will be really interesting to see the reactions of people over the three days and hopefully everybody has a good time, and there is good information about the details, and people look at the routes and figure out where is the best place for them to view it.”
The 30 foot Grandmother Giant arrived this Monday ahead of the show, which takes place from September 5-7 and is expected to attract upwards of 200,000 people into the city.
The Giant will arrive by train before beginning her “weekend exploration” of Limerick, with spectators urged to gather anywhere along the routes.
Over the following two days she will call to Sarsfield Barracks, the Lee Estate and Shelbourne Park - among many other locations - before departing by boat from Limerick Docks.
A number of streets will be affected and will be closed, while preparatory work has already begun to clear the way for the procession.
Mr Fitzpatrick admitted that the huge project, costing in the region of a million euro to produce, was now becoming “more tangible” as the start point comes closer.
“People are beginning to think about making plans to come to the event and find out what is actually happening,” he said. “We are very close to the project, but most people are beginning to take notice; ‘what kind of a giant, what will she do and where will she go’, those are the conversations.
“I am hoping that it is a trader bonanza, that there is a lot of uptake and it is an opportunity to walk around the city and see it in a different way.
“It is totally new, totally unique, it is very exciting and there is a massive amount of preparation. Most of all it is great to see the engagement with An Garda Siochana and all the various agencies. That has been a real positive aspect.”
Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, who visited Liverpool to see the gigantic show, said he was “confident” of managing policing of the event.
“We are enthusiastic about it and looking forward to it, but we would ask people to make sure that they give themselves time, they plan the route and know where parking and park and ride services are going to be in advance of their trip to Limerick,” he said.
“There is a project team operating out of Henry Street and they are finalising all the traffic points, so that the restrictions that will be in place will run smoothly, without any major interruption to people.
“We would stress that a lot of the city centre will be pedestrianised and there will be occasion that cars that are parked along the route of the Giant may have to be physically removed.”
Chief Supt Sheahan added that the knowledge gleaned from his policing counterparts in Liverpool would “be implemented over here”.
Disruption to city businesses should be minimal, with the Giant to ‘rest’ between 12pm and 4pm on the Friday, and larger crowds are expected to flock to Limerick on the Saturday for the longest full performance.
The Giant will stop at various points around the city, and will be followed by a procession, including a live band, with elements of an original story relating to Limerick forming a major part of the elaborate production.
THE GRANDMOTHER’S ROUTE AROUND THE STREETS OF LIMERICK:
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 5:
10am - 11.45am (approx)
Grandmother arrives by train at Bus Éireann School Transport Offices on Roxboro Road and makes her way to Upper William Street, down William Street,
turning left onto O’Connell Street. She continues up O’Connell Street to the O’Connell Monument, turning left onto Barrington Street, continues to Pery Square, Upper Mallow Street and arrives at Russell Park.
4pm - 6.40pm (approx)
Grandmother leaves Russell Park continues onto Parnell Street, down Roches Street, turning right onto O’Connell Street, continuing onto Sarsfield Street, Liddy
Street, around by Arthur’s Quay Park, onto Patrick Street, back around Arthur’s Quay, making her way to Henry Street and then Harvey’s and Howley’s Quay. She
proceeds to make her way up Lower Cecil Street back onto O’Connell Street and up to The Crescent, turning onto Barrington Street, Pery Square, Upper Mallow Street, onto Lord Edward Street arriving at Sarsfield Barracks 6.40pm approx (which will remain open to the public for a further two hours)
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 6:
10am - 12.30pm (approx)
Grandmother wakes up at 10am in Sarsfield Barracks and sets off on her journey around the City, taking in Lord Edward Street, Parnell Street, Upper William
Street, down William Street, over Sarsfield Bridge, turning right onto Clancy’s Strand, continuing over Thomond Bridge onto Castle Street and Island Road, arriving at the Lee Estate.
4pm - 6.15pm (approx)
Grandmother wakes in Lee Estate and continues onto Island Road, turning right onto Bridge Street, Rutland Street, Patrick Street, O’Connell Street, Lower Cecil
Street, Henry Street, Mill Lane, Bishop’s Quay, Howley’s Quay, Lower Shannon Street, Henry Street, Sarsfield Bridge, Clancy’s Strand, High Road, Thomondgate,
Sexton Street North to Hassett’s Cross, left onto Shelbourne Road into Shelbourne Park 6.15pm approx (which will remain open to the public for a further two hours)
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 7:
12 noon - 2pm
Starting at The Treaty Stone and continuing onto Clancy’s Strand and onto Sarsfield Bridge, Sarsfield Street, Patrick Street, Rutland Street to Merchant’s Quay. Departing Merchant’s Quay, Rutland Street, Patrick Street, Sarsfield Street onto Sarsfield Bridge before departing by boat on The River Shannon.
FURTHER USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT THE EVENT:
Over the three days much of the City Centre will be pedestrianised so that spectators can enjoy this family friendly free event.
The City Centre is open for business on all three days. Grandmother Giant will be walking a total 19km over the three days, and will be stopping intermittently.
Spectators may gather anywhere along the routes.
Shuttle bus services to the city centre will operate from approved out of town car parking sites. Park and walk sites closer to the city will also be available.
Due to the Giant’s height of 7.5 metres, it will be viewable from long distances.
To help maximise your enjoyment, wheelchair users and people with special needs will be permitted to gain access to protected viewing at marked static performance sites.
There will be a number of road closures in the city centre during the three days of the event.
All Giant information relating to travel, traffic, parking, road closures, wheelchair accessibility and more is available to view on Royal de Luxe Limerick.