6 March 2008


Right: Limerick coat of arms
If you have an inquisitive mind, questions will often float to the surface and irritate you until you find the answers. Now I have visited the city of Limerick in western Ireland several times. Visually it is an unappealing, flat city. It spawned the BBC media personality Sir Terry Wogan and it figured largely in that marvellously humane novel, "Angela's Ashes". But what has often puzzled me is why certain funny five line ditties should also be called "limericks". What's the connection?

This is what "Wikipedia" has to say on the subject:-

The origin of the actual name limerick for this type of poem is obscure. Its usage was first documented in England in 1898 (New English Dictionary) and in America in 1902. It is generally taken to be a reference to the County of Limerick in Ireland (particularly the
Maigue Poets), and may derive from an earlier form of nonsense verse parlour game which traditionally included a refrain that ended "Come all the way up to Limerick?" (referring to Limerick, Ireland).

Ah well, I suppose that is an answer. But it's not really the gob-smacking solution I was hoping for, so leaving that research behind, here's a limerick:-

There was a young man from Darjeeling,
Who got on a bus bound for Ealing;
It said at the door:
'Do not spit on the floor.'
So he leant back and spat on the ceiling.

It seems that in 1907, Britain was gripped by limerick fever with several newspapers and periodicals inviting last lines. This was one such unfinished limerick and, to win a special prize, I invite modern day visitors to this blog to compose their own fifth lines:-
There was a young lady of Ryde
Whose locks were consider'bly dyed.
The hue of her hair
Made everyone stare...

Above: Groom's party at a Limerick wedding.


  1. Hello, Mr. Yorkshire! :) Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day.

    Though I don't know you, I just wanted you to know that you've been tagged for a meme. Please visit my blog and read the "4x4 meme" posting.


  2. ...Although "something blue" fits for a bride.

  3. As she was the father of the bride

    It's our Lady of Glee who inspired that bridal line... ;)

  4. ..and potential suitors tongue-tied

  5. red and yellow, and blue at the side!!

  6. Anonymous1:24 am

    ...Making her want to run off and hide.


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