The phrase “Donnybrook Fair” has a few different references: this jig, a broadsheet ballad, and a phrase for a brawl or riot — as in “it was a right Donnybrook Fair down at O’Shea’s last night.” The tune is a fairly old one. O’Neill has it as “Joy of My Life” in 400 Tunes Arranged for Piano and Violin (1915). There are a number of recordings on 78 RPM records, so it was once very popular among seasoned musicians. Currently, this tune is regarded as a good beginners tune, and rarely recorded by professional artists. It is in the repertoire of Prince Edward Island players. The actual Donnybrook Fair was held in Donnybrook, Dublin. In 1204 the far lasted eight days in August, but by 1252 it was extended to fifteen days (i.e., a fortnight). By the nineteenth century it had become a drinking and brawling mess, enough of a public nuisance that a number of citizens formed The Committee for the Abolition of Donnybrook Fair and worked toward their goal. They finally succeeded by purchasing the license for the fair from John and Peter Madden in 1855 for £3,000 – actually, they got the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Joseph Boyce, to purchase it for them. So, the fair lasted the from the thirteenth century up to the mid nineteenth. Today, there is a high-end food retail chain called “Donnybrook Fair.” Their flagship store is located on the site of the original fair in Donnybrook.
For the ABC click Donnybrook Fair
Donnybrook Fair, slow tempo (mandolin)
Donnybrook Fair, medfast tempo (mandolin)