"bring her to Limerick" 1862 and Limericks

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Jan 14 15:17:51 UTC 2009

Well, I wrote on Jan. 11:
The HDAS definitions of "come to Limerick" work, but, based on more uses,
the phrase may have also meant "come to a conclusion" [perhaps like "do a
Limerick," "make like Limerick"] or, originally, "settle" or "surrender."

So I guess we agree on the "surrender" sense.


Quoting Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>:

> Whatever the ultimate rationale behind "come/ bring to Limerick," the
> expression is rare in print.  If it originally alluded to the Siege (and it
> well may have) one would expect to find early Anglo-Irish exx.  Are there
> any?
> Of course, if the phrase had long been local to some part of Ireland, such
> written evidence may not be findable. It may be significant that it appears
> in the U.S. not long after the Great Emigrations of 1848-52.  Many (most?)
> of these exx. are from the U.S. Army, especially the Union Army, which had
> a large number of recent Irish immigrants in its ranks.
> The connection between the siege of Corinth and the Siege of Limerick is, to
> me, most likely coincidental. Besides the defs. of "come to limerick" in
> HDAS (based on the cites then available), and besides "face the
> music,"  perhaps we should add the nuance "to end one's resistance."  "Bring
> to Limerick" would be "to force surrender or compliance."
> If the phrase really refers to the Williamite War, my guess is that the
> Treaty of Limerick, which ratified the Jacobite surrender, is the intended
> referent. In that case, "make X come to Limerick" = "make X surrender."
> JL
> On Wed, Jan 14, 2009 at 6:18 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
>> Subject:      "bring her to Limerick" 1862 and Limericks
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Illinois Artillery Officer's Civil War: The Diary and Letters of John
>> Cheney?,
>> ed. Gordon Armstrong  (College Station TX, 2005) pp.47-49. May 14th, 1862.
>> My dear Wife, ....Thursday morning 15th....We go to Pittsburg this
>> afternoon to
>> get some extra ammunition. I doubt not that in a very short time, we
>> will be at
>> work on Corinth. Although it is going to be a good deal of a job to "bring
>> her
>> to Limerick."[1] Still she must and will come, and I think with far less
>> loss
>> of life than at Pittsburg.
>> [ed. GA note 1: Bring to Limerick is to do what needs doing.]
>> Corinth ("her") is presumably Corinth, Mississippi. This appears to add
>> extra
>> evidence that the Limerick reference here is to the siege of Limerick that
>> ended the Irish Civil War and resulted in the Treaty of Limerick and the
>> "Flight of the Wild Geese," soldiers loyal to James II who went to France.
>> The
>> "come to Limerick" uses after the US Civil War are increasingly transferred
>> to
>> nonsense uses in time to be applied to the pre-existing 5-line nonsense
>> verse
>> stanzas, often created in contests. (Whether the early Limerick verse
>> contests
>> were sung or spoken or printed is yet to be determined.)
>> Stephen Goranson
>> http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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