“The Humours of Donnybrook Fair (I)”


"To Donnybrook steer, all you sons of Parnassus, Poor painters, poor ... To see what the fun is": pig hunts, fights, horse races, tradesmen of all kinds, tinkers, singers, dancing dogs, pickpockets, barbers, whisky. "There's naught more uproarious"


Donnybrook is less than three miles from Dublin. - BS

Parnassus is a mountain near Delphi in Greece, considered sacred to Apollo and the muses. Hence the soms of Parnassus are artists, poets, and the like.

According to Partridge's _Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English_, the term "donnybrook" for a fight is originally Australian and comes from c. 1920, but it derives from the reputation of Donnybrook Fair for wild events such as those described here. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "Ballynafad" (tune, according to Croker-PopularSongs)


  • Bodleian, Harding Harding B 25(28), "The Humours of Donnybrook ("To donnybrook steeer [sic] all ye sons of parnassus"), unknown, n.d.


  1. Croker-PopularSongs, pp. 184-189, "The Humours of Donnybrook Fair" (1 text)
  2. ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 265-267, "The Humours of Donnybrook Fair"
  3. BI, CrPS184


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1839 (Croker-PopularSongs)