New Word I Just Learned: Donnybrook

hockey_equipment_on_the_ice

I was listening to the best radio station in the world (88.1 WYCE) when I heard Chuck Brodsky’s “Hockey Fight Song“. It’s a catchy tune and pretty much sums up what 90% of the people who attend hockey games are thinking.

Going down to the Garden with a couple of my buds.
Gonna sit up in the cheap seats. I wanna see a little blood.
I wanna get my money’s worth. Eat some dogs, drink some beers.
I’m gonna yell all night at the referee, “Come on, you bum! Get outta here!”
I wanna see a hockey fight, a little donnybrook, a little brou ha ha.
If our team should score tonight, we all can yell “hurrah, hurrah.”

Well, that’s the first verse, anyway. I encourage you to watch the video for it. It’s a great tune.

But while I was listening, I heard a word that I’d never heard before. I figured it out by context, but until I heard this song, I’d never heard the term “donnybrook” before. And since I’m a fan of learning new things, I thought I’d share this one with you too.

A “donnybrook”, as you’ve probably figured out too, is another name for a brawl or a fight. It specifically connotes a large free-for-all type of fight, the kind you may see in an old western film when the bad guy walks into the saloon and bottles and tables and people alike start flying around the room. But why does it mean that?

Donnybrook Fair 1835

Donnybrook Fair 1835

As all good drunken fighting words should, “donnybrook” has Irish roots. From the 13th century until the middle of the 19th century, Donnybrook Fair was held in Dublin’s suburb of Donnybrook. And though it started as a proper fair in the beginning, 600 years can change an event. Near the end, it was well-known for its drunken revelry and a committee was created to shut it down. Though, in order to put an end to it, the committee had to buy the ancestral rights to the event, which is kind of interesting.

Since it’s cancellation, the term “donnybrook” has lived on as it is used in Chuck Brodsky’s song. Although, it has lived on in other interesting ways as well. Donnybrook Fair is also the name of an upscale grocery chain whose flagship store is in the original site of Donnybrook.

And now that the learning is done, let’s all go to a hockey game! Maybe see a hockey fight, a little donnybrook, a little brou ha ha.

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One response to “New Word I Just Learned: Donnybrook

  1. Once, I was nearly part of a donnybrook myself.
    My team signed up to play in a league we hadn’t played in before. We had a game against a team that had never lost in that building and, since we didn’t know any better, we won. Anyway, we scored with 10 seconds left – oh the glory of my playing days! – and someone on the opposing team threw a fit.
    So, naturally, the crazy canadian on my team decided to keep him in line and slashed him so hard on the arm that he broke his stick (and broke the persons’ arm I believe).
    Anyway, things escalated rather quickly at that point until both teams stood face to face at centre. Gloves were off, It was intense. Then the police showed up and escorted my team out the back doors.

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