Under the glow of $4 Christmas lights hung by nails found in the lawn, nine young men recline in chairs scavenged from campus. Passing by, you’ll hear any music from Alicia Keys to Dropkick Murphys to XXXTentacion.
After construction in Galloway Residence displaced the men who lived on the dorm’s fourth floor, the college gave them the opportunity to stay in a college-owned house at 62 Park Street.
Affectionately called “the Donnybrook” by students of the college in past years, the house used to be an off-campus hub with Friday night “poetry readings,” usually accompanied by Irish drinking songs, ballads, bluegrass, and country music.
As reported in The Collegian in 2016 by Micah Meadowcroft, the Donnybrook has always been a place of fellowship.
“According to Forester Mc Clatchey ’16, the Donnybrook was considered ‘the epicenter of literary culture on campus.’” The house’s residents organized readings of their favorite poems by the poets themselves when they visited campus.
Daniel Spiotta ’13, considered the pioneer in creating the Donnybrook culture, described his own experience in carrying on tradition.
“There was a group of nine guys that lived there before and they were good guys — faithful, manly men,” said Spiotta, who for many current upperclassmen defined the Donnybrook and campus literary culture. “I really loved them and wanted to keep a lot of their traditions alive. The song tradition, the tradition of singing folk songs together in a big group, that was the biggest thing we inherited.”
The Donnybrook, for many, was a place of brotherhood and literature. Spiotta describes it as “folk culture.”
Rather than the house providing spirit to the people, it was the people themselves who gave life to such a love for poetry and fellowship.
Many who lived in Donnybrook worried that the culture would fade as people graduated. Josh Rice ’14 didn’t find that to be a problem, when describing the house in the 2016 Collegian article.
“The fact is that ‘the Donnybrook’ as a term has really come to symbolize something bigger than itself, which is good,” Rice said. “As a term it has always been something bigger than itself.”
With such a legacy behind them, the current members of the Donnybrook still value brotherhood, even if that brotherhood finds its place in different activities and people. The new members consist of three juniors and six sophomores, all residents of Galloway last year.
Head Resident Assistant and junior Ethan Visser organized a weekly Bible study on Thursday nights. According to Visser, the nights are an invaluable opportunity for the men of the house.
“As a group of friends living together we have a big opportunity to better each other and grow closer as a group,” Visser said. “It’s an exciting thing to be able to study God’s word together and grow in our faith as well as grow in our relationships with each other. I love these guys and to be able to do this together with them is humbling.”
Amidst the minutiae of each day, the culture that the house cultivates seeks to create a deeper unity and bond.
“Small group is a time of putting aside the day to day interactions, the ‘bro culture’ stuff,” sophomore Ben Jagoda said. “There’s been a lot of time for heart-to-heart interactions and talking through our struggles, our problems, and many aspects of our life.”
The members of the house can easily spend hours in the living room listening to new music one of them discovered, or having long conversations, encouraging each other to grow in character.
“Being vulnerable and being connected with one another really improves the dynamic of the house and how you interact with one another on a daily basis,” sophomore Gabriel Kramer said. “We’ve already started to challenge each other to lead more moral lives.”
The group, however, finds time to make almost nightly runs to Subway and McDonalds, watch Vines on end, and crack jokes every chance they get.
“We’re a slew of cowboys,” sophomore Henry Eising said. “You sit around, you make jokes, you watch the world go by.”
This “happy go-lucky group,” as Eising calls it, tries to find a balance between the challenge of growing as men and enjoying the lighter moments of life, described in one word:
“Rambunctious,” Visser said. “We are pretty wild and loud. The other floors did a lot of stuff together [in Galloway] but we were mostly just loud.”
While the men of Donnybrook change over time, the zeitgeist of the house remains intact through the fellowship that each group has brought with it.
“Even outside of small group, as humans, we need a good amount of emotional interaction and deep bonding with other people,” sophomore Cal Abbo said. “The men that live here, I can’t put into the words how much I love them.”