Every year, the annual Bring Your Limericks to Limerick event celebrates a very particular literary form - the art of the limerick. And, naturally enough, it takes place in Limerick! Ahead of this year's event, 2017 Bring Your Limericks to Limerick winner Monica Spencer writes for Culture.

Filth! That was the first word to appear on social media when my beloved limerick appeared online. I was devastated. This was my beloved paean, to the great Patrick Sarsfield who rode through county Limerick on horseback, intercepting enemy guns destined to blow up King John’s Castle in the heart of Limerick City.

I felt hurt. This was not filth. Nor was it a bawdy limerick as had been inferred when I read it aloud at the final of the limericks competition. The entire assembly at Dolans Warehouse, on a hot, sticky August evening in 2017, eagerly awaited each finalist as they appeared on stage to deliver what they hoped would be the winning limerick. The last line of my limerick referred to Patrick Sarsfield coming to, i.e. waking up from a deep sleep or coming around from a state of unconsciousness.  

Limerick legend Monika Spencer (far right) receives her prize

We might well imagine the gallant soldier falling from his horse onto the lush and leafy grounds around Murroe, for a quick nap due to the exhaustion of the tasks that faced him. I introduced my short offering as A Very Brief Love Story and began to read aloud. I could sense the crowd’s appreciation of the historic content as the narrative unfolded about a young woman named Sue who, on stumbling upon our sleeping hero, took it upon herself to wake him up. This she did. When I delivered the last line of the poem, the house erupted. I knew immediately that the vulgus, the over-eager audience, wanted nothing more than to take the lavatorial, the ‘filthy’ interpretation of the work. I stood on stage before the crowd as in the actor’s nightmare – speechless.  ‘No’, I wanted to tell them. ‘There’s only one ‘O’ at the end of the last word. He came to, not………….’ There was no point in trying to explain. They had taken their meaning from the words and no amount of persuasion as to the real comedy, that of the grammatical pun, was going to change their minds. They were too busy guffawing, slapping their knees and, as I walked back to my seat, telling me I was a ‘hard case’ and that my limerick was appropriately bawdy.  How dare they!

Everyone has a good limerick in them. I had never contemplated entering Limerick Writers’ Centre’s Bring Your Limericks to Limerick competition but this little poem just kind of sneaked into my head. I thought I had a clever idea and, encouraged by a cash prize, I decided to go for it. The town of Murroe, moreover, the pronunciation of its name was always something that carried a tiny bit of fascination for me and this is where my limerick was born.  I would encourage anyone to enter this competition.  It really is great fun and a great night in Limerick City at the end of the summer.  If you can pen something simple, that scan’s well and has a ‘filthy’ punchline, you’re in with a winning chance and picking a town or village with an usual name if a good start.  Thanks to Murroe for the inspiration. This year, I’m thinking of writing about Oola, now what rhymes easily with Oola?

Anyway, here it is: A Very Brief Love Story

An erotic young woman named Sue

Came by Sarsfield Asleep in Murroe

As he opened his eyes

She did straddle his thighs

Singing, ‘Paddy, I’m glad you came to’

The Bring your Limericks to Limerick festival will take place from August 24th - 26th, 2018 - more details here