Book Report: The Book of Irish Limericks by Myler Magrath (1985, 1995)

Book coverThe 2023 Winter Reading Challenge has a category Under 200 Pages, and 40 pages is definitely under that limit. As I mentioned when I bought the book last month, it was between this and the collection of the Sara Teasdale poetry as to which I would use to fill the slot on the paper. Well, you probably could have guessed that the man who read Lecherous Limericks by Isaac Asimov would go for this book. So I have.

Well, I will say this for the book: Originally published in 1985, it was reprinted several times–this book comes about ten years later, about the time I turned 20-something. The limericks are often off-color–which means they’re proper limericks–but clearly it’s the product of an earlier era, where a little naughty was amusing. Thirty (almost) years later, and who’s telling limericks now? Old men. Ay, in the Lecherous Limericks review, I told the story of how I knew a lot of dirty jokes in middle school and how that made me popular amongst some kids in middle school. In 2023, this stuff is tame to the point of being twee. But we’re not here to talk about it as a cultural artifact except that we are.

Not as good as the earlier Asimov–probably, but I don’t remember that well the actual content of that book which I read four and a half years ago. I mean, it’s not like poetry I’ve memorized or poems whose catchphrases (poems have catch phrases?–damn right they do!) I repeat to myself at times. Most of the initial lines do end in a place name, and to be honest, as I don’t know my Irish geography or, more importantly, Gaelic pronunciation, that well, I’m a bit at a loss for grading the rhymes. At least once, a limerick is repeated with a different place name in it, and assume they both rhyme if you’re Irish.

Amusing, and brief enough to have been amused rather than annoyed. But it did take me three nights to read it amongst longer works, so not something to tackle all at once, or you’ll be bored. But briefly.

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