A short, humorous, and often nonsensical verse of five lines that have a particular pattern of rhyme (aabba) and rhyme. Lines 1, 2, and 5 are of three feet and rhyme, and line 3 and 4 are of two feet and rhyme. The rhythm is anapestic. Generally, a person or situation is being lampooned, often in a bawdy or irreverent way. How this poetic from originated and how it came to be named after Limerick, the city and county in Ireland, remains a mystery. Local lore has it that the eighteenth century Irish poet and Limerick native Andreas McGrath composed in this five line meter, which was based on an ancient Irish verse form. Another theory is that the limerick was first invented in the eighteenth century by a Limerick student at Trinity College who composed these witty ditties in classical Greek and Latin to poke fun at his fellow students and teachers. The practice became a fad on campus and eventually limerick were being composed in English also. The limerick is also said to have originated from a folk song in which the refrain is “Will you come up to Limerick ?” as each listener contributed an impromptu verse. Supposedly, in the eighteenth century, members of the Irish Brigade returning from France brought back this song. Edward Lear popularized this form of light verse with the publication of his Book of Nonsense in 1846.
You are bound to hear at least one on Ireland tours…….