St. Patrick's Day activity for all ages: write limericks

St. Patrick's Day activity for all ages: write limericks
by Moomsbuy at

One fun, easy and literary way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is write limericks together. A limerick is a witty or nonsensical poem that is short and simple, so kids, tweens and adults alike can all write them.  Limericks are meant to be humorous and while they are often bawdy, you can leave that aspect out if the kids are around (or not, I’m not here to judge.)

(If limericks aren’t your Irish thing, no worries, check out these other favorite ways of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, find facts about St. Patrick’s Day, get an Irish soda bread recipe or scroll down for facts about Limerick, Irealnd.)

Limericks are funny, often nonsensical poems that are five lines long and follow a strict rhyme scheme of AABBA. The first, second and fifth lines all rhyme and have the same number of syllables, typically 8 or 9. The third and fourth lines rhyme and usually have 5 or 6 syllables. Limericks also start with “There once was a …”

A limerick worksheet looks like this:

There once was a ________ A (8-9 syllables)

______________________ A  (8-9 syllables)

___________ B (5-6 syllables)

___________ B (5-6 syllables)

______________________ A  (8-9 syllables)


Here’s a limerick about St. Patrick’s Day by Scott Brodie from Yahoo! Voices:

Leprechaun’s Limerick for St. Patrick’s Day

There once was a green leprechaun,
Who jigged with his pointy shoes on,
To the left and the right,
He could jig through the night,
Til the break of St. Patrick’s Day dawn.

The River Shannon in Limerick

The River Shannon in Limerick explains that the word “limerick” as derives from the Irish town of Limerick. Apparently a pub song or tavern chorus based on the refrain ‘Will you come up to Limerick?’ where, of course, such bawdy songs or ‘Limericks’ were sung.”

You probably know many limericks by heart without even knowing it. Many nursery rhymes are limericks, including Hickory Dickory Dock and Mary Had a Little Lamb (the 10 lines is actually 2 5-line limericks).

Edward Lear made limericks famous in the 1800s with his book, A Book of Nonsense. Here’s a limerick by him:

There was an Old Man in a Boat

There was an Old Man in a boat,
Who said, ‘I’m afloat, I’m afloat!’
When they said, ‘No! you ain’t!’
He was ready to faint,
That unhappy Old Man in a boat.

At one St. Patrick’s Day party I attended the hosts had guests write limericks and towards the end they recited all of them. It was very funny, and the later in the party the adults had written the poems, the more the syllables and rhymes  were less than perfect. The kids’ limericks were perfect, though. I wonder why . . .

If you’re interested in the poem’s namesake, here are some facts about Limerick, Ireland

St. John's Castle Limerick

St. John’s Castle Limerick

  • Limerick is both a city and a county in Ireland;
  • Limerick is the fifth largest city in Ireland with a population of approximately 60,000;
  • The River Shannon runs through the center of Limerick;
  • Limerick is the setting for Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt’s best-selling memoir;
  • King John’s Castle is located on King’s Island in Limerick. Built in 1210, this is a perfect example of fortified Norman architecture in Ireland;
  • You can read about the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Plans in the Limerick Leader.

 If you liked this post, you may also like: St. Patrick’s Day favorites: Irish recipes, books, music and more

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Filed under: Education

Tags: poem, St. Patrick's Day, writing

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