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Mere me,
Cast second I,
Beg or bay,
Till softly I,
Leave with a coat on me.

Hint 1: Title knowledge

The title refers to a geographical pair of the answer(s) in Ireland.

Hint 2: English geographical titbit

An English county with four towns of population greater than 10 000 that are nouns also splits, with a space, into two more nouns. All nouns are common and found in Merriam-Webster.

Hint 3: Bear in mind that what

Englishmen see as work, Americans see as fun.

Hint 4: I am a quarter longer in

Ireland than in England, Scotland or Wales.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv the GM one would work with say shaw for hale which doesn't seem to be a noun in MW, though is elsewhere. It's not the one relevant to a line in the question. Hope it's your third one. Maybe I should strengthen Hint 2? (My one doesn't currently have an EPL team, but does have lower division teams.) $\endgroup$ – Tom Apr 6 '20 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv, those first two counties are great finds, but can rule out Somerset as Bath is a city (tough!) and Greater Manchester only has Shaw, Lees and Sale as bury is a verb $\endgroup$ – Tom Apr 6 '20 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv, ah Somerset is valid as has Minehead. I may try to rule out (though Hint 2 surely limits to a small number of counties/towns). $\endgroup$ – Tom Apr 6 '20 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$ – Stiv Apr 6 '20 at 19:18
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The answer to this puzzle is:

LOUGH (the Irish word for a body of water, like a ‘lake’ or ‘loch’)

This is supported by Hint 4, since the 5-letter word 'lough' is a quarter as long again as its 4-letter counterparts from England ('lake'), Wales ('llyn') or Scotland ('loch').

Mere me,

A ‘mere’ is a type of lake. ‘Mere me’ could be taken to mean ‘I am a lake’...

Cast second I,

This clues the word SLOUGH, which means 'cast off' and can be made by adding the abbreviation 's' (meaning 'second', a unit of time) to the front of the word 'lough'.
(i.e. Cast = second + I('me') = s + lough).

This word was further clued by Hint 2, being one of the many towns of the English county of Berkshire whose names can also be nouns. Others include Reading (e.g. a meter reading), Maidenhead and Ascot, possibly among others...

Beg or bay,

Both of these are names of loughs in Ireland: Lough Beg in Northern Ireland, and the very small Bay Lough in Tipperary, ROI. Note further that as well as being able to describe an inland body of water, a 'lough' can also be coastal and much more like a geographical 'bay' (consider Belfast Lough, for example), stretching a long way along a coastline.

Till softly I,

This clues the word PLOUGH, which means 'till' and can be made by adding the musical abbreviation 'p' (meaning 'softly') to the front of the word 'lough'.
(i.e. Till = softly + I('me') = p + lough).

This word was further clued by Hint 3, since the constellation Ursa Major is known to the English as 'The Plough' (a piece of farming equipment), whereas to Americans it is more commonly 'The Big Dipper' (a rollercoaster) - work vs play, indeed!

Leave with a coat on me.

This clues the word FURLOUGH, which means 'leave' (as in 'a leave of absence from a job') and can be made by adding a coat (or 'fur') to the front of the word 'lough'.
(i.e. Leave = coat + 'me' = fur + lough).

As for the title:

This (as implied by Hint 1) refers to Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. This lough is actually two connected lakes, and (oddly) the more northern of the two is known as 'the Lower Lough' while the more southern of the two is known as 'the Upper Lough'! Sounds like someone had their compass upside down when coming up with the names!

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent, all five lines are perfect! $\endgroup$ – Tom Apr 9 '20 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ rot13(Hccre naq ybjre jbhyq ersre gb nygvghqr, abguvat gb qb jvgu pbzcnff qverpgvbaf - gur bar arnere gur frn jvyy nyjnlf or gur ybjre) $\endgroup$ – Mohirl Apr 9 '20 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Mohirl I know, don't worry - that last comment is meant tongue-in-cheek ;-) $\endgroup$ – Stiv Apr 9 '20 at 17:45

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