When one speaks of funny Irish poems most likely they are referring to limericks. They take their name from County Limerick in southern Ireland but why exactly we are not sure. One possibility is that because an early form of the poem had a standardized line inviting the hearer to visit the place. Limericks became popular from the 1840’s onwards when Edward Lear (who was actually English) popularized them through his work A Book of Nonsense. Limericks follow a set pattern: five lines of verse where the first, second and fifth, and the third and fourth, rhyme together. They are often but not always obscene. But they are always (or aspire to be) funny.

Below is a sample collection of Limericks by Edward Lear from his A Book of Nonsense.

There was an Old Man with a beard,

Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!

Two Owls and a Hen,

Four Larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard!

There was an Old Man on a hill,

Who seldom, if ever, stood still;

He ran up and down,

In his Grandmother’s gown,

Which adorned that Old Man on a hill.

There was a Young Lady whose chin,

Resembled the point of a pin;

So she had it made sharp,

And purchased a harp,

And played several tunes with her chin.

There was an Old Person of Burton,

Whose answers were rather uncertain;

When they said, ‘How d’ye do?’

He replied, ‘Who are you?’

That distressing Old Person of Burton.

I hope you enjoyed those clean and funny Irish poems. If you want to read more of Lear’s poems click here.

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