a MYSTERIOUS object from another time plummeted out of the skies and crashed into a car on O’Connell Street this week.
“What the hell? See what happened in Limerick last night?” tweeted Cork’s RedFM.
Shoppers coming out of Brown Thomas stopped in their tracks to gaze at a scene that seemed other-worldly, and right out of a fantastical, magical blockbuster.
And that’s because something magical is coming to Limerick this weekend, something that promises to blur the lines between reality and imagination and leave everyone, young and old, enthralled. It was marketing at its best.
Right now, an 85-year-old granny, measuring 30 foot high, is ready to greet tens of thousands of people in Limerick this weekend, from 10am tomorrow. The scenes on O’Connell Street, of the obliterated Ford car, will be replicated across the city in the coming days, to give a taste of street theatre soon to unfold, from Royal de Luxe, the world renowned French theatre company, which has been entertaining millions of people around the world for 30 years.
Today, giant footprints appeared on city streets while commuters were greeted by the bizarre sight of a bus filled with potatoes.
“Musique, allez!” shouted its inimitable creator, Jean Luc Courcoult, in the grounds of the old Dell factory in Castletroy this week, as the Limerick Leader was granted a rare sneak preview of the behind-the-scenes action.
However, Iseult Byrne, the project director, stressed that the media were previously kept at arm’s length in other cities to prevent any of the show’s surprises seeping out.
“Royal de Luxe have a lot of surprises up their sleeves, surprises that they have created and invented for the people of Limerick, and to speak of them now would ruin the surprises for people. It’s going to be the most different thing anyone has ever seen,” she said.
In the past, even route maps were not revealed to the public to create a further air of mystery, and on this occasion in Limerick no press photographs were permitted of the rehearsals.
They have been working on the project for 13 months, with actors, writers, musicians and historians, amongst many others, so the sense of anticipation for her first giant steps - with the aid of the mixed French and Irish 27-strong crew - is palpable, said Ms Byrne.
People across the city have been working hard for months to welcome the Granny to Limerick.
A 90-foot scarf, involving some 500 balls of wool, has been knitted by the Limerick Craft Hub, and has been handed over, while a massive, 7ft high cake has been created by Hook & Ladder on Sarsfield Street ahead of the visit.
Speaking a “language from before time”, one of the three translators for her is Louis Lovett, who stars in the RTE TV show Killinaskully, who will “translate the stories that she has brought from another galaxy in her great vault of memories.
“This is a first - something of this scale and artistic vision, and their style and the approach to the work. I feel very lucky to have been able to witness it at such close quarters. It’s brilliant. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to work with them, and then Limerick City of Culture came along,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Sheila Deegan, arts officer with Limerick city and county council, who has viewed the Granny in Nantes and Liverpool, said it is “quite emotional” to see and “something you don’t expect”.
“It’s not flash, it’s not Disney. It has the power to transform you, and that is the essence of real street theatre,” she said.
Mike Fitzpatrick, director of City of Culture, said after the Granny departs a “lot of solid, interesting” projects are still in the pipeline. Whatever the audience numbers this weekend - and Mr Fitzpatrick said they are impossible to accurately predict at this point - the production will be one giant leap forward for Limerick.