Royal de Luxe’s Giant’s Journey is the flagship event of the Limerick City of Culture, and over 72 hours, the 7.5m-tall giant grandmother — dubbed Big Nanna in Limerick — will move through the city.
The Giant’s journey has been seen by over 18m people in cities around the world since the first giants were created in 1993.
It is estimated the visit will be worth up to €30m in tourism to Limerick and the Mid-West.
This year, the Grandmother will only be seen in Limerick and Nantes in France, following a visit to Liverpool where over two million people thronged Merseyside a month ago to witness the spectacle.
The theme of the story is that the Grandmother has fallen from a galaxy into a field in Munster and, having been cared for in the countryside, has been sent by train to Limerick.
She arrives at 10am today at the Irish Rail depot on Roxboro Road from where she will set out for the city centre, along William St and O’Connell St.
Her first day will resume with an afternoon walk along Arthur’s Quay, Henry St, The Crescent and Lord Edward St, before she retires for the night in Sarsfield Barracks.
Her journey continues over Saturday and Sunday, completing her 19km city walk at Sarsfield Bridge before departing by boat down the Shannon Estuary at 2pm.
It is expected that over 200,000 will pack city streets to catch a glimpse of the giant granny.
Director of Limerick City of Culture, Mike Fitzpatrick, said that as well as the financial spin-off, the event would leave a lasting legacy.
“Limerick will be seen as a place to come to, as an attractive cultural location.”
Major traffic diversions have been put in place over the three days and shuttle bus services will operate to and from out of town car park.
French company, Royal de Luxe founder, Jean-Luc Courcoult, said of the Grandmother: “Her origins have given her a tough, daring and mischievous character.
“But overall, she is full of tenderness and her face expresses a kind of tranquility, but her lively eyes give us the impression that she is completely aware of what is going on around her.
“Her wrinkles are almost gentle and transparent, like a geographical map that shows where the hills and mountains are. This can sometimes give her a certain fierceness, at least an appearance of fierceness. And you can see the erosion of time and emotions.”
The Giant has been accompanied to Limerick by a crew of 170, which includes the Giant’s escort of Lilliputians, technicians, performers and a team of Giant manipulators.
A further 120 local volunteers have been specially trained to create a special cordon around the Giant.
A huge garda traffic/crowd control operation has been put in place involving over 150 members of the force.