What have Joseph P Kennedy (father of John F Kennedy), HG Wells, James Joyce, Aldus Huxley and Clement Atlee have in common? Well if you haven’t guessed – they all wrote limericks! Now The Limerick Writers’ Centre are publishing a new book exploring the curious history of that ubiquitous five line verse called, appropriately, The Curious Story of the Limerick written by noted local historian Dr Matthew Potter of Limerick City Archives.
This important book dealing with a significant aspect of Ireland’s literary heritage will be launched on Saturday 3rd August at 4.00pm in The Pavilion on the UL Campus. The Curious Story of the Limerick is the first book ever to deal with the limerick poem in its local context and the first to be actually published in Limerick itself.
The launch takes place as part of the Limerick Gathering Tailteann Nua Festival, which also includes an International limericks competition, with a prize fund of €1,000, and a series of writing workshops taking place at Plassey House.
The book explores the both the history and mystique of the limerick from its origins in the mists of time to its modern day international reputation as a comic, and sometime bawdy, poetic form. It relates how Limerick is the only place in Ireland to give its name to a form of poetry or indeed any other literary form, but up to now the link between the two has never been properly established. Author Matthew Potter outlines why he wrote the book “One of the principal aim of the book is to create an awareness of the connection between the place and the poem so that Limerick can establish itself internationally as one of the few places that gave its name to a literary form. Think Shakespeare and Stratford, Joyce and Dublin, Burns and Scotland, Limerick and the limerick.” he said.
It may also come as a surprise to many to learn that, according to American writer and educator Brander Matthews (1852-1929), ‘the humble limerick has the distinction of being the only fixed form which is actually indigenous to English,’ and this despite the English language having one of the largest and richest bodies of literature in the world. Few people also realise that the limerick is almost exclusively confined to the English language, seemingly because the latter’s structure is peculiarly suitable to its metre.
The Curious Story of the Limerick is published by The Limerick Writers’ Centre in the person of the indefatigable Dominic Taylor who commissioned Dr Potter to research and write it.
Dr Matthew Potter is one of the best known and most prolific historians in Limerick. He is a graduate of the University of London (BA) and NUI Galway (PhD) and having previously worked in the University of Limerick and Mary Immaculate College is now employed in Limerick City Archives. A prolific author, The Curious Story of the Limerick is his ninth book.
The Curious Story of the Limerick will be launched by Cllr Kathleen Leddin, Mayor of Limerick on Sat 3rd Aug in The Pavilion available for purchase on the day and from selected bookshops, and on-line at www.limerickwriterscentre.com