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late 19th century: said to be from the chorus ‘will you come up to Limerick?’, sung between improvised verses at a gathering.
The city of Limerick, on the River Shannon in the west of the Irish province of Munster, gets its name for the Irish for ‘bare patch of ground’. In a country famous for its crack, or enjoyable sociability, tradition has it that in the past it was the custom for people to improvize a piece of nonsense verse. The audience would then follow every performance with a chorus containing the words ‘Will you come up to Limerick?’ Through this the town gave its name to the humorous five-line poem made particularly popular by Edward Lear in A Book of Nonsense ( 1845).
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