National Limerick Day
Many of you know a Limerick is a five-line poem, usually whimsical, with a rhyming scheme which goes AABBA — the first, second and fifth lines all rhyme together. The shorter, third and fourth lines rhyme with each other. Allegedly named after the town of Limerick in Ireland, they were made popular by the English 19th century poet, Edward Lear, but no one seems to know who first invented the style.
As a kid, I remember hearing my dad spouting Limericks, some well-known, some he’d made up. I’d never written one before but when I saw National Limerick Day was coming up, I started musing. Surprisingly, the first two lines just popped in my head, then the next two came quickly, and when I saw where it was going the fifth line was obvious.
There once was a sailor named Gary
Who swore he would never re-marry
But when I came on board
His joyfulness soared
And now he’s as happy as Larry.
The poem tickled me, but the really funny part was when Gary said “Who’s Larry?”
“You know,” I said, “Larry…as happy as Larry.”
“But who’s Larry?”
I was sure he was winding me up. But when he kept asking, I realized he was being serious. Sure enough, his phone came out of his pocket and off he and his index finger went in search of Larry. He scrolled with such determination I wondered if he thought it was an ex-boyfriend of mine.
“There is no Larry,” I laughed. “It’s just an expression!”
And that’s when Gary started to laugh at my assumption. “Says here that Larry Foley was an Australian Boxer (1847 – 1917) who was paid the vast sum of stg 1,000 for winning his last fight.”
“Let me see that.”
And down the internet rabbit hole we went to discover that the expression Happy as Larry could be rooted in any number of origins:
Australian/New Zealand slang – larrikin – meaning a street hooligan
English dialect – larrie – joking, practical joke
So, to my American friends who’d never heard the expression before, and in the words of Trevor Noah, now you know.
Anyway, having convinced Gary that I hadn’t made it up, I managed to persuade him to perform the Limerick with me. We sure had a laugh filming it on the bow of Free’d Spirit. Dare I say we were “as happy as Larry”.