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Limerick is an even more familiar name.  It's reasonably certain that the notorious verse form that takes its name from this city stems from a group of poets, or wits, from this region.  The rhyme scheme AABBA is found in some longer poems but from the early 18th century onwards limericks have generally stood alone as a single stanza and as one anonymous wit observed:

The limerick’s an art form complex
That's content runs mainly to sex;
It’s famous for virgins
And masculine urgin’s
And vulgar erotic effects

It's an art form that reached its peaks of popularity during the two World Wars

A spy huntress of English nativity 
Had a bottom of rare sensitivity
She could sit on the lap;
Of a Nazi or Jap
And detect his fifth-column activity

but it's still loved by many, if the Internet is any guide.  At one time I knew quite a few, some original, and still do.

Like Dublin, Waterford and Cork, Limerick began as a Viking town, this time at the mouth of the Shannon River, and like other towns along the coast was later fortified by the Normans.  There is still a substantial Norman/Tudor fort near the centre of town on St Johns Island that we spent some time exploring and is well worth a visit.

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As the fourth most populous city on the 'island of Ireland', Limerick was particularly badly impacted by the potato famine (see the history above...) and it's the setting for Frank McCourt's book: Angela's Ashes, about the consequent poverty of the lower classes in the slums of Ireland, that was later made into a harrowing film.

Nevertheless, the city was not poor everywhere and has some fine buildings including some of the best preserved Georgian townhouses in Ireland, the construction of which must have provided much needed employment. 

As I had it in mind that Angela's Ashes was set in Dublin we omitted to look for McCourt's slum house in Limerick. But that's just as well. According to The Irish Times the slums are long gone:

Slums of `Angela's Ashes' reborn as heritage attraction

No sooner have the Limerick slums been demolished than they are being reconstructed again as the city begins its love affair with Angela's Ashes in earnest.
Shannon Development and Limerick Civic Trust have recreated the home of Frank McCourt's youth in an £80,000 tourism development, ironically in the stables of a refurbished Georgian house, the home of a wealthy family in the 1940s and 1950s.

THE IRISH TIMES Jun 22, 2000



# Michael 2020-08-28 06:06
This article is brilliant. I've learnt a lot from reading about these travels
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Almost everyone in Australia knows someone who hailed directly from Malta or is the child of Maltese parents. There are about a quarter as many Maltese Australians as there are Maltese Maltese so it is an interesting place to visit; where almost every cab driver or waiter announces that he or she has relatives in Sydney or Melbourne.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The new James Bond



It was raining in the mountains on Easter Saturday.

We'd decided to take a couple of days break in the Blue Mountains and do some walking. But on Saturday it poured.  In the morning we walked two kilometres from Katoomba to more up-market and trendy Leura for morning coffee and got very wet.

After a train journey to Mount Victoria and back to dry out and then lunch in the Irish Pub, with a Cider and Guinness, we decided against another soaking and explored the Katoomba antique stores and bookshops instead.  In one I found and bought an unread James Bond book.  But not by the real Ian Fleming. 

Ian Fleming died in 1964 at the young age of fifty-six and I'd read all his so I knew 'Devil May Care' was new.  This one is by Sebastian Faulks, known for his novel Birdsong, 'writing as Ian Fleming' in 2008.

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Opinions and Philosophy

A modern fairytale - in a Parallel Universe


I've dusted off this little satirical parable that I wrote in response to the The Garnaut Climate Change Review (2008).  It's not entirely fair but then satire never is.




In a parallel universe, in 1920† Sidney, the place where Sydney is in ours, had need of a harbour crossing.

An engineer, Dr Roadfield, was engaged to look at the practicalities; including the geology and geography and required property resumptions, in the context of contemporary technical options. 

After considering the options he reported that most advanced countries solve the harbour crossing problem with a bridge.  He proposed that they make the decision to have a bridge; call for tenders for an engineering design; raise the finance; and build it.  We'll call it the 'Sidney Harbour Bridge' he said; then less modestly: 'and the new crossing will be called the Roadfield Highway'. 

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