In Reply to: Donnegal to pay posted by David on March 17, 2009 at 16:49:
: I'm trying to trace the meaning and origin of the phrase "There will be Donnegal (sp?) to pay." Of course, it sounds like a variation on "the devil to pay," but I've reviewed several mythology reference books and in none of them do I find Donnegal as an entry or alternative for the devil or even a minor demon. I believe Robert Heinlein used the phrase in "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag," but after revisiting it, I could not find the phrase after all. Another curious similarity is the name of the pirate in Rand's "Atlas Shrugged," Ragnar Danneskjold (surname pronouced similarly--which Rand was fond of doing, e.g., the character Francisco D'Anconia was a "close" homophone for her husband, Frank O'Conner). Since the pirate is said to have been named after the Viking leader Ragnar Lodbrok, I thought there might be something in Norse or even Teutonic mythology, but so far I'm turning up a blank. Also, it is perhaps only happenstance, but in the Victorian book of faux-epic poetry "A Voice from Donegal," there is a poetic retelling of the death story of Ragnar Lodbrok. Doubtless a coincidence, but curious, nonetheless. Anyway, I have researched this now for weeks and am getting little. Hoping someone can help.
It's not a phrase I am familiar with - despite being a native of the country in question - but I rather suspect it is 'Donegal' as in the northernmost county of Ireland, and I imagine it would have been used as a way of avoiding saying 'the Devil', which has traditionally been considered bad luck (to say the least).