Laetitia’s association with limericks began when her Irish grandmother, who was a woman of means, took her on a tour of Ireland. Before going to Shannon Airport for their flight home, they spent the night in a hotel in Limerick called the Leprechaun. Being a young adult and the granddaughter of a wealthy woman, Laetitia had her own room. During the night, a strange thing happened that Laetitia later recounted in verse:
It’s a tale my grandmother might tell
Of a night in a Limerick hotel
When a mild-mannered guest
Was roused from her rest
And found herself caught in a spell.
In dim light at the foot of the bed
A wee fellow in green softly said
“Though a bard, you are not
You are all that I’ve got
Listen carefully, and don’t act ill-bred.”
“In Ireland, there is nothing for free.
Since you’ve toured now, you owe me a fee.
But I’ll take it in trade
And consider it paid
When you write twenty limericks for me.”
“To write them, you’ll have to be terse.
It is best if they’re bawdy or worse.
Just about any gaffe
Can bring a good laugh
Some are just slapstick humor in verse.”
“Writing limericks, you’ll find, is a vice.
Some are tawdry and often not nice.
Or seem not quite clean
Or close to obscene
With grammar that’s quite imprecise.
“You are writing these for a mixed crowd.
And not one that is drunken and loud.
So try to be comical
But not anatomical
And profanity isn’t allowed.”
“And so now it is time to begin.
Take a wee nip of whiskey or gin
And start with word games
Using Irish place names
Of the charming locales where you’ve been.”
“To eat just one chip can’t be done.
It’s hard to stop once you’ve begun.
When the place names are gone
You’ll want to move on
And write some more rhymes just for fun.”